January 29, 2006

Happy Year of the Dog!

The Lunar New Year, also called Chinese New Year, begins on the first day of first month in the lunar calendar. This year it begins today, January 29. It marks the beginning of the Spring Festival, which lasts 15 days from New Year's Day to the Yuanxiao Festival, or Lantern Festival.

In China, on New Year's Eve, families get together to send off the old year and usher in the new, a year which they hope will be rich in harvest, happiness and success. Everybody goes to bed later than usual. Some spend the night chatting or playing card games, watching TV and nibbling sweets and nuts and all sorts of delicacies while the children set off firecrackers and fireworks.

The first two days of the new year are spent visiting friends or relatives. Most people go back to work on the fourth day. In the countryside, however, festivities go on until the Lantern Festival begins.

During the Lantern Festival people decorate their homes with colorful lanterns and eat Yuanxiao -- glutinous rice flour balls stuffed with sweet fillings or meat or dried cassia flower. Sounds yummy huh?

We celebrated last night with eight other families -- all with little girls from China -- at a wonderful restaurant in Chinatown. Unfortunately, Kenna woke up from her nap, shortly before we left, on the wrong side of the crib and was in a terrible mood! She's teething, getting over pneumonia and was clearly just not a happy little girl.

Even with our grumpy girl it was fun to see some old friends and meet some new ones. I'm sure the poor people seated around us in the restaurant were happy to see us leave!

Next weekend we're going to a 500-person Lunar New Year celebration for families with children from China. It should be fun in a mass-chaos-and-children-running-everywhere kind of way.

These pictures were taken a few days ago. The girls are wearing one of the silk outfits I bought for them in China.

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