InspirAsian for the New Year: In 4696, Deliciously
by Sallie Han
Being Asian-American is sort of like having an American Express card: Membership has its privileges -- a fact that I'm reminded of at this time every year.
In grade school, the Christian kids were jealous of the Jewish kids because of Chanukah (presents every night for a week!), who turned evergreen with envy because of Christmas (presence everywhere for many weeks). I didn't play those reindeer games. Instead, I boasted of Asian Lunar New Year, which is celebrated some time in January or February, after the dreidels are packed and the trees are put to the curb. Most folks know it as the Chinese New Year. But being a fire-breathing eater of kimchi (the spicy cabbage pickle that is practically the Korean national dish), I'm always quick to add that the holiday, which falls on January 28 this year, is observed not only in China, but also in Vietnam, Korea and, to a lesser extent, Japan.
The way I described a typical Han family Asian Lunar New Year in a third grade show-and-tell presentation was that we ate lots of Korean food and then the grown-ups gave us money, as a symbol of good fortune to come. Although I like to think I now have a somewhat more sophisticated appreciation of the cultural significance of the lunar new year, that is pretty much how I would described such goings-on even today.
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