First, a few musings on Chinese holidays. When I was a kid, I remember looking enviously at my peers who came from multicultural homes. There was my friend Graciela whose family all spoke Spanish at home, and then there were the Kurdish refugees in our junior high school (I had a crush on one dashing Kurd boy for awhile)...And that's about as multicultural as my life got, for I grew up in the rather WASPish state of Idaho.
But now I get the joys (and sometimes consternation) of having my own multi-cultural family. I am starting to realize that marrying a Chinese man makes not just our children Asian-American, but all of us get to be "Asian American" in some aspects. Parts of both cultures touch our everyday lives, from the ordinary to the holidays.
Enter Chinese New Year. It follows a lunar calendar, so the date changes on our western calendar each year. There are twelve animals on the Chinese Zodiac, and as tradition goes, each has its strengths and weaknesses. I was born in year of the boar; Jerry, year of the monkey; LoLo, year of the ox. And guess who is having a little Rabbit baby...! No, not Jerry & me. ;) My sister Jessica and her husby Matthew are expecting a baby around the end of July. We are so excited that Lo will have a cousin!
And what characteristics does our Lo have, being an Ox? The main traits are strength and determination--seems to fit our big boy so far. He was so determined to hold the camera while I tried to get a shot of him posing with his red pocket, that finally I just let him hold the camera while I took the photo. So it ended up being a photo of his foot with the red pocket.
Red Pockets are a fun part of the New Year celebration. People give them to children to symbolize good luck, and the envelopes contain money. We delivered some to the children in our neighborhood. It is cute to see how Jerry gets really excited about this and other Chinese traditions, since he has a lot of childhood memories associated with them--sort of how I feel excited about Santa Claus or the Easter bunny visiting because of how it brings me back to my youth.
I remember in my adolescent development class learning how the highest achieving, most well-adjusted kids were those who identified themselves as bi-cultural as opposed to those who only connect with the mainstream culture, or on the other hand, those who primarily associate themselves with a minority culture. I realize now that even though I grew up simply "American," my parents made an effort to connect us kids to our ethnic background of English/Scottish ancestry. We learned about our heritage and it felt like a strength to know we had unique traditions and cultures in our past generations. Also, Mormonism is considered a significant subculture in the United States, so any observant Mormon families can consider themselves bicultural, in my opinion. I am happy our Lo will grow up having the benefits of multiple worldviews.