Posted in Culture, Dance, Events, Food/Recipes

Lunar New Year

Chinese American artist Kam Mak created the new Forever stamp
Photo Credit: latimes.com

#haiku – A Prosperous Wish

Radiant blossoms
Joy overflowing within
Life begins anew

Hello everyone! Just want to let you know that I’ll be gone for the first week of February celebrating the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tet) with my family. In the mean time, I would like to share a few fun facts about the celebration and a hope for a better 2019 year for all of you! There are several countries throughout South, East, and West Asia that celebrate the new year based on the lunar and solar cycle as well.

Lunar New Year is coordinated by the phases of the moon and based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar. So every year the lunar new year falls on a different day. The recent lunar eclipse was fascinating, wasn’t it?

Photo Credit: express.co.uk – Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse

Tet celebrates the arrival of spring. It’s an occasion to forget the troubles of the past and hope for a better new year. Typically there is a spring festival called Hoi Xuan. There’s lion dances and festivities in oriental market squares. Some churches celebrate by lighting up Chinese lanterns at night, organize a carnival, play some games, and host entertainment.

Chinese musicians and dancers perform a lion dance under red lantern decorations during the opening ceremony of the Spring Festival Temple Fair at the Temple of Earth in Beijing February 2, 2011. Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is China’s biggest holiday, giving migrant workers their only chance of returning to their home provinces with gifts and money for the family. It represents the world’s biggest annual mass migration of humans. UPI/Stephen Shaver
Photo Credit: inkxlenses.tumblr.com

Families typically prepare by cleaning up their homes and creating or buying special holiday food such as banh chung, banh tet bamboo soup, sticky rice, sweet coconut/ginger/sesame peanut brittle candies.

New year greetings are typically shared along with giving lucky money to children or elderly in bright red and gold envelopes called “Li Xi”

Photo Credit: Beth Williams

There are variations on how Vietnamese families pay their respects to ancestors that have passed away and invite their spirits to celebrate with them. In my family, we typically set up and decorate an altar like in the picture below.

Photo Credit: waittravel.com

Many women and girls of all ages enjoy wearing colorful and elegant ao dai dresses to celebrate the occasion.

Miss Vietnam 2010 photo shoots with children during Tet season
Photo Credit: english.vov.vn
Photo Credit: news.zing.vn

If you guys are more curious about the language, here are some common Vietnamese Lunar New Year phrases and vocabulary. Pronunciation is another story! 🙂 (Credit: Tumblr.com)

Phrases

  • Chúc Mừng Năm Mới: Happy New Year
  • Cung Chúc Tân Xuân: Gracious wishes of the new spring
    Sống lâu trăm tuổi:  Long life of 100 years (said by children to elders in exchange for lucky money)
  • An khang thịnh vượng: Security, good health, and prosperity
  • Vạn sự như ý: May myriad things go according to your will
  • Sức khỏe dồi dào: Plenty of health
  • Cung hỉ phát tài: Congratulations and be prosperous
  • Năm mới dồi dào sức khỏe: I wish you a healthy new year 
  • Năm mới tấn tài tấn lộc: I wish you a wealthy new year 
  • Năm mới toàn gia bình an: I wish that the new year will bring health to all your family 
  • Vạn sự như ý: All wishes come true 

Vocabulary

  • Tết Nguyên Đán: Vietnamese New Year Lunar Festival
  • Nhận tiền lì xì: to receive “lucky money”
  • Lì xì / tiền mừng tuổi: “lucky money”   
  • đi chùa để cầu …: Go to pagoda to pray for…
  • gói Bánh chưng: Make Chung cake
  • trang trí nhà cửa: Decorate the house
  • Đi chợ hoa: Go to flower market
  • Thăm bà con bạn bè: Visit relatives and friends
  • Xem pháo hoa: Watch fireworks
  • Đường phố được trang trí với những dây đèn đầy màu sắc: streets are decorated with lines of colorful lights
  • Hoa đào: peach blossom
  • Hoa mai: apricot blossom
  • Cây quất: The kumquat tree
  • Gạo nếp: Sticky rice
  • Đậu xanh: Green beans 
  • Mỡ lợn: Fatty pork
  • Chúc Tết nhau: exchange New Year’s wishes  
  • Bao lì xì: red envelope
  • Ăn diện: dress up
  • Đánh bài: play cards
  • Dưa hấu; watermelon 
  • Dừa: coconut
  • Xoài: mango
  • Đu đủ: papaya
  • nhang: incense
  • Bàn thờ: altar
  • Mê tín: superstitious 
  • Điều cấm kỵ: taboo
  • Quét nhà: sweep the floor
  • Vào ngày mùng một Tết: on the first day of Tet 
  • Đưa ông bà: Bid their ancestor farewell
Posted in Books, Dreams, flashback, Quotes

The Transition Past a Fog

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Hope all of you enjoyed New Year festivities! On the last day of of 2018, I opened the front door late at night to check out the early fireworks after I popped my small champagne poppers. We have some eager neighbors who are ready to start the new year with a bang! There was some heavy fog that swirled together with the smoke creating a dense screen of opaque gas.

As much as I like the mystical nature of fog (when I’m not driving), I couldn’t help but feel that the fog symbolically represented the concealment of transitioning to 2019 this time. It was as if the fog was teasing me, “Na-na-na Sa, you are not allowed to peek ahead quite yet! There’s something I want you to pay attention to first!”

At least 2019’s fog seems more playful than the 1980’s killer fog from the horror thriller flick! 😀

I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.

Thomas Jefferson

Hold on Thomas Jefferson! I know you’re waving your translucent hands impatiently waiting to get to the meat of the issue, but I’m going to indulge in the past just a little bit before jumping to my dreams for the future! I invited you here because I heard that various educators and editors were taking you out of school textbooks in our region. Interesting debate! You are such an enigmatic founding father in American history!

Anyway, the foggy weather reminded me of a novel I read as a young girl called “Fog Magic” by Julia L. Sauer published in 1943. Greta, a young girl living in Nova Scotia, is able to travel back in time every time her village is covered in fog.

I’ve been looking forward at everything in my life through my front windshield to avoid crashing into anything and enjoy the present. Since it’s foggy outside, I’m just going to park in the woods for a moment and enjoy my warm order of “acceptance, courage, and self-love” venti potion from The Sunshine Artist’s garden cafe.

Part of self-love involves forgiveness of myself for the things I felt like I couldn’t do. There’s an acronym floating around the blogsphere: FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Comparing yourself to others is a harmful habit. Sometimes, I’m in awe of what someone else is doing and wonder if I should being doing that too like say… rock climbing for instance.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

So, it’s time to look at my rear view mirror and reflect back on the highlights of my year, bullet journal style!

Photo credit: Laura Bailey @ All the Shoes I Wear

Overview of 2018

January:

  • Elected Secretary of the Justice Society, Vice-president of Chapter Operations for a business fraternity, Treasurer of Guild of Geeks at my school which simultaneously scared and excited me because I’ve never been elected for so many student officer positions
  • Started a more rigorous fitness and nutrition regimen to help me maintain energy for all those new responsibilities

February:

  • Began planning for several community service projects
  • Learning “Infor: ERP Cloud Software” and COBOL programming language that is causing everyone in my class migraine headaches

March:

  • Happily grew some squash, flowers, lettuce and maintained my garden patch during spring break!
  • Organized a clothing drive for the Battered Women’s Shelter for women’s history month

April:

  • Organized my first video game tournament which gave me many lessons in project & event management
  • Organized speaker series for World Water Day and Earth Day for Environmental club

May:

  • Graduated from a bachelor’s program with a major in information technology, project management and minor in English
  • Humbled to be awarded “Student Leader of the Year” along with other distinguished honors

June:

  • Preparing to be bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding
  • Served a homeless shelter
  • CISCO, CCNA, CompTIA+ cyber security training
  • Participated in a summer reading club

July

  • Started my blog, “Culture Shocks” where I enjoyed writing fiction, taking photographs, and interacting with many bloggers around the world. THANK YOU! It’s been a pleasure!

August

  • Began my year long commitment with a local youth literacy reading buddy program

September

  • Participated in San Japan Convention, cosplayed as Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece anime, and enjoyed time with boyfriend before our 3 month separation as we focused on our studies.

October

  • Started studying graduate admission testing workshops. I was thinking about practicing my essay questions here…

November

  • Handled busiest retail season for Black Friday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years!

December

  • Participated in a fun song challenge on my blog which hid my incredibly packed holiday schedule. Believe me, it helped tremendously! 😀

Goals for 2019

After that bullet list, you’d think I’d just want to find ways to relax for 2019! Now that’s an idea! In my last Q&A, I said I wanted to remove some clutter. One evening, I noticed that Netflix featured a show with master organizer: “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”. Guess my goal is everyone else’s! I will ponder on these quotes while cleaning and trying out a few things from the #KonMariMethod.

For my blog (same, some tweaks)

  • Book/Movie/Restaurant reviews
  • Crafts/Art/Drawing/Painting/Sketch
  • Fiction/Poems/Stories
  • Questions/Responses/Thoughts
  • Photographs/Challenges/Prompts

For my personal life

  • Transitioning to a new job/career
  • More studies- Tech certifications
  • Read at least one book each month
  • Spending more time with family and friends
  • Sleep more often. Make sure I get enough rest.
  • Dream up new dreams throughout the year!
Photo Credit: Pixabay