Here in Singapore (and Asia), we’re celebrating the Chinese New Year (also called the Lunar New Year) this Monday. And for the next fifteen days after. So places and stores have been buzzing with activity and excitement as everyone makes preparations for the New Year.
I didn’t always appreciate or fully understand our traditions for the Lunar New Year. In fact, I even thought they were rather routine and annoying at some point in my younger years. Through the years, gaining an understanding of Chinese traditions and the meaning behind them has brought my appreciation of Lunar New Year to a whole new level as I start to soak in the festivities for myself.
But this year, I find myself having a brand-new appreciation for the customs and cultures of one of the biggest Chinese holidays ever, as I share them with my students and help them to understand this holiday.
While it’s easy to take traditions for granted, sharing my cultural traditions with others has made me pause and consider the traditions we’ve had for Chinese New Year for as long as I can remember. Because the thing about traditions is, you never know when they might change.
So this year, I’m taking extra notice of the traditions we have, the things we do, the food we eat, the places we go and everything in between.
Here are some things I’m thinking about as I go about my celebrations and visitations this year:
Notice the yearly traditions. What are they? Are there many traditions?
Think about the details, the little things, the things that you don’t realize or notice are traditions, but actually are, because you would miss them if they weren’t there.
What food do you eat? Where do you go? Who do you spend time with? What do you do?
What do you like about these traditions? Which traditions make you excited? Why do you like them?
Some of my favorite traditions include our color-coordinated outfits and our annual DIY family photo shoot. And I love them for how they document our lives each year. Getting to visit family and friends I don’t see very often also gets me excited for all the catching up we get to do.
What would you change about your traditions?
As with many things, there are some traditions you don’t like and would rather change or get rid of altogether. What are they?
What new traditions would you like to start for these holidays?
There are seasons of life and some things come and go. Some traditions might work in one season, but may be unrealistic for another season. It is absolutely okay to change some traditions, do away with others, and come up with ones that are brand new just to suit the season of life that you are in.
While I don’t foresee any new traditions this year, I’m sure that there will be new ones once we move into a different season of life.
Although I may not necessarily enjoy all the cultural traditions, I definitely appreciate the values that our traditions embody and being able to share them with others gives me a deeper appreciation and better embracing of the things and traditions that make our culture unique.
So now here’s the challenge – however you decide, write down your traditions, photograph them, art journal them, scrapbook them – just document them in a way that you can look back on them in twenty years and appreciate the traditions for what they were and all that they encapsulated for you at that point in life.
For me, I’m documenting our Lunar New Year traditions this week. For you, that could look totally different (depending on where you live) and you could document some seasonal traditions or holiday traditions instead.
Who’s joining me?