Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Friday, January 31, 2014

Red Envelopes - and a Wish - for Chinese New Year!

"Gung hei fat choi!"

That’s the traditional Mandarin greeting many will say today - "wishing you prosperity" - to mark the beginning of Chinese New Year.  This important Chinese festival, also known as "Spring Festival", marks the start of new life and the season of ploughing and sowing. The holiday is traditionally linked to honoring the household, heavenly gods, and ancestors.

Today I have a fun book about how a little girl's wish conflicts with traditional Chinese customs and culture:  Ruby's Wish, by Shirin Yim Bridges. The story was inspired by the author's grandmother!

Ruby is a determined little girl who loves the color red.  She also loves to learn, and wants to go to the university like her brothers.  Finally one New Year's Day, Ruby gets something very special in a red envelope from her grandfather. You'll love Sophie Blackall's bright illustrations (like the Ruby in the book, her favorite color is red).

In Ruby's Wish, we learn about the Lantern Festival that is held at the end of the Chinese New Year celebration (traditional Chinese New Year is a two-week holiday divided into two parts. The first week is designated time to spend with family and friends. The second week involves traditions designed to bring good luck. The festivities end with a Lantern Festival.)  Click HERE for a wonderful Chinese New Year craft source, which includes the paper lanterns pictured below.
Before the holiday begins, families tend to clean their homes, but throughout the holiday, dust brushes and brooms are hidden so that good luck won't be swept away. Typically, the holiday begins on New Year’s Eve, when families gather for a large traditional meal in which regional foods are served. At midnight, fireworks are set off to “frighten” evil spirits. Red is a common color for the holiday because it symbolizes fire, which wards off evil.

The holiday itself is usually spent with relatives, shopping, watching fireworks and, in some cases, a religious ceremony honoring heaven, earth, and other deities. Other traditions include stuffing red envelopes (like the one Ruby gets) with money and candy and placing them under children's pillows, to open on New Year’s Day. [source]

You can read my past posts about Chinese New Year (with more book recommendations!) here.
According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2014 is the "Year of the Horse".  For my posts about horse books your kids will love, go here.

1 comment:

  1. Happy Chinese New Year to you...thank you for sharing! ♥