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January 22, 2004

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

So it is officially the year of the Monkey.......again.

And being the only Monkey in the house, the blogging has fallen to me today. Ella is a horse (and can't type yet) and Tomi is a rooster (and has blog block). As it is, the whole barnyard is splashing around in the tub as I write this, so I thought I'd mark the Chinese New Year by thinking about New Year's celebrations that stand out in my mind.

I've never been a big fan of December 31st--New Year's Eve. In fact, I generally go out of my way to avoid attending (or hosting) parties to mark the occasion. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that the "traditions" most North Americans observe include heavy drinking, over-priced / champagne-soaked meals, and forced kisses with strangers at midnight. Growing up, it always struck me as being very fake--a made-up holiday. Too many people wake up the next day hung over, remembering stupid things they did the night before, and wondering if they've already made the first big mistake of the New Year.

Generally speaking, New Year's resolutions are abandoned by mid-January. The vices we had promised to give up just weeks before soon become the only things that can get us through the post-Christmas depression.

Maybe this is why I find myself looking to other cultures to find a New Year with meaning. Both the Chinese and Persian New Year's celebrations come to mind. Both holidays are focused on thoughts of family. There are all sorts of wonderful Chinese and Persian traditions steeped in both a belief in family and a belief in spirituality.

I remember my first Chinese New Year's celebration with Tomi's family. Lots of food, lots of stories, lots more food, and then lucky money to top it all off. Absent were the pressures to drink and socialize with other drunken strangers. Absent also--thankfully--was the need to plant one on somebody you didn't know.

The Persian celebration of Chahar Shanbeh Suri--or--the eve of Red Wednesday is another tradition that makes me think I missed something special growing up. The thought of gathering with friends and family to jump over an open fire and ring in the New Year in a purified state just seems more meaningful than dancing until dawn in smokey, boozy, sweaty haze.

Then again. I suppose a little monkey business is what it's all about for most people.

I guess I'm just very happy that Ella is a horse.

Gung Hay Fat Choy everyone! Happy Chinese New Year!!

May yours be filled with family, friends, happiness, good health, and good fortune

Posted by go-Daddy-O at 09:11 PM in Reflections | Permalink

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Comments

I'm with you go-Daddy-O! Having married into a Chinese family, I have LONG given up the age-old traditions that you speak of - especially the part where you stay up until midnight...that's one night I can't ever stay up for.

Besides, who can beat mounds of delicious Chinese food, time spent with family, the lucky red envelopes and yet more food?

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Posted by: penny | Jan 23, 2004 1:51:59 PM

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