Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chinese New Year 2011

It's the year of the Rabbit - lapin as Talinn would say in French. Our favorite San Francisco celebration is the Flower market held one week before Chinese New Year. The extreme hustle and bustle transports me straight to Beijing. This is how I imagine the markets there to be - countless folks eagerly milling around flower stalls to pick up the most auspicious botanical piece of good luck and stage performances vying with vendor giveaways for attention.This year, we took Talinn and Nathan anna to experience the oriental chaos. They were each given a $10 budget to spend as they please on the lucky items. Certainly kept them engaged and fixated on their goals rather than the general confusion.After much browsing and careful thought on Nathan anna's part, he chose a big blue crystal gem. Talinn started out impulsive by buying his first ever pair of pet goldfishes but later decided he wanted nothing to do with them and bought himself a warm bunny scarf instead. Nana was left fending for the doomed goldfishes, trying in vain to buy them fish food and changing their water. But their fate was sealed with Talinn's rejection.Talinn was mesmerized by the street performances of costumed little girls dancing to traditional Chinese music. I was happy to gorge at all the flowers - orchids, peach blossoms, and birds of paradise.No visit to the fair can be complete without rides. And no trip to chinatown is complete without sweet buns from the local bakeries that Nana always makes a point to buy. Check. Check. Time to go home.For Talinn, this year the Chinese New Year celebrations did not end with our family trip to Chinatown. He also went to our local community celebration where he was most enthusiastic about completing every craft. So we came home with lanterns and a crown and other stuff. Talinn also picked out a new pinwheel for the yard.Since Talinn's school also has a Chinese immersion program, Chinese New Year is celebrated in a big way. The kids are served a traditional meal for the occasion in a specially decorated banquet hall. I volunteered with other parents to serve the meal and participate in the festivities. The fortune cookies and oranges were the biggest hit with the kids.
One of the Chinese moms in Talinn's class read a New Year story to the class and brought them all traditional red envelopes filled with chocolate coin money. What a great idea!
Every year, Talinn's school participates in the famous Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco. Parade floats are painstakingly constructed by parents in what takes months of effort. One evening on our way to Chinna atta's house, we chanced upon a group of parents testing out lights on rabbits for Talinn's school float this year. We were so thrilled to discover them that we stopped to chat for a bit. Of course, like every year, they won a prize once again. Hope your new year is a winner too!

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