Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Happy Chinese New Year!!

The Bay Area is one of the most culturally diverse areas in the entire world. You can't imagine how difficult it is to memorize some of the names of kids on our baseball teams! It's amazing! It has allowed us many opportunities to share what we believe and learn about others beliefs. The first big chunk of our married life was spent in a ward that included all of the Tongans south of San Francisco. It was WONDERFUL! The love, strength, testimonies ( and food!) of those Tongans left lasting impressions on our lives.

For the last 11 years, we have been in a ward that includes all of the Chinese on the East Bay. Once again, it has been an amazing experience. We are immersed in more ways than we realize. Just last week, Gracie put on a cowboy hat and yelled, "Ni Hao" instead of "Yee haw!" "Ni Hao" means "hi" in Chinese. Our kids learn primary songs in Chinese, every church meeting is translated into Chinese, and for Enrichment meeting we learn how to make pot stickers. It's awesome!

One of my callings is the Activities Committee and this last week we learned how to throw a Chinese New Year party.
Brett happily had the job of transferring the fish to each bowl as part of our centerpieces. (Yuck!)

Here's a little quiz:
Which of the following ISN'T a true Chinese tradition?
a. fortune cookies
b. Chinese jump rope
c. Chinese finger tortures (you know those things you stick your fingers in and the more you pull the harder it is to get your fingers out.)
d. rice candies that have the cellophane paper on them. ( I may be so immersed that I assume everyone has had these. I could be so wrong!)
e. soy sauce on white rice
Answer: All of the above!! What a shocker to us as we thought of fun ideas for our party. Everything "Chinese" that we knew had NO connection to the Chinese. Fortune cookies originated in San Francisco. Who knew? The Chinese in our ward had no idea what Chinese jump rope was, and they'd never heard of the finger tortures or the rice candy. When I mentioned that we might want some soy sauce for all of the white rice that was coming, I just heard gasps. I learned that the extremely poor in China put either sugar or soy sauce on their rice to give it flavor. :)

They roasted a full pig.

And I can't even begin to tell you how yummy the food was.
And it kept coming!!

Our party was "American-ized" because there was a HUGE amount of (my favorite) chow mein which isn't a true Chinese dish.

Chinese New Year is a time for families to be together. It is also a time to give "red envelopes" to the kids. (Kind of like Christmas for us.) The kids are given little red envelopes that are filled with money. My kids were into that one.
They also had a "ribbon dance" for all the kids. My boys weren't so great at following the lead dancer and ended up doing their own rendition of Stayin' Alive from the back row. :)


Veronica said...

that looks like so much fun!!! we miss being around chinese people... but we were able to have our own little chinese new year party with just our little family.

Salcido said...

Oh MY Gosh! Jen, you are simply amazing! You went ALL out! It looks like it was a hit.

J+S said...

You are so amazing and this looks wonderful. I love the Chinese New Year and celebrating it. Great job! Did you make the dragon balloon or was that someone there local? I NEED that for my next party.

Jen said...

We made the balloon dragon! I'd love to show you how!! It was pretty easy!

J+S said...

Oh my goodness, I love, love, love it! When can I get my tutorial?! You really are so amazingly talented.