The best thing about repeating our New Experiences Project this year is that my children are the ones coming up with many of the ideas. They have asked me to add at least 5 or 6 things to my running list of experiences to try. The idea of celebrating Chinese New Year came from Luke. He opened his backpack last week and had a worksheet about Chinese New Year. He remembered that when we went to the Eden Center we saw lots of calendars and gifts in preparation for Tet, the Vietnamese New Year and wanted to know if the two holidays are the same. Our project helps me learn new things, too, as I had to look it up to be sure. The two holidays celebrate the Lunar new year, but they have different customs. Since Luke already considers himself an expert in Vietnamese culture after one trip to an ethnic shopping center, he wanted to learn more about the Chinese New Year.
First, I ordered Chinese takeout. Now this may not seem very authentic, but I realized that Chinese food is a totally new experience for my children. I don’t particularly care for Chinese food, so they have never had it. Even though I don’t love Chinese food, it almost seems un-American that my children have never eaten food from a small paper box in their entire lives.
Unfortunately, after spending $25 on General Tso’s tofu, Broccoli in Garlic Sauce, Vegetable Fried Rice, and Wonton Soup, we learned that my children share my dislike of Chinese food. However, they did try it and enjoyed using the chopsticks. Of course, the Fortune Cookies were a big hit, and we had fun looking at our lucky numbers and reading our fortunes.
We watched a video of a big parade in celebration of the New Year. The kids really enjoyed seeing the dragons with many people’s legs showing underneath. They even tossed around the idea of being a Chinese dragon for Halloween but decided trick-or-treating might be too difficult in a costume like that.
Now, we did make our own paper lanterns. As you know, this is not a crafting blog. I will leave the adorable photos of Chinese New Year crafts to other, more artistic mom bloggers. My children worked hard cutting, coloring, and stapling their lanterns, but only their mom could truly appreciate them. Like their taste in food, they have inherited my lack of attention for detail.
As our night wound down, I presented them with a red envelope with a dollar tucked inside. This is a Chinese tradition that is supposed to bring good fortune. I don’t know if it will really bring us good luck, but it was definitely the highlight of our Chinese New Year celebration.
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