Happy Year of the Monkey

February brought color and cheeriness to an otherwise cold and dreary month. Lunar New Year warrants more decorations than Christmas: apartment lobbies decorated red and pink with fat kumquat trees guarding the elevators, golden dragons coiled high above mall entrances, and the distant sound of drumming as lion dances were being performed all over town.

Lion Dance “museum” in Times Square.

I love the traditional lion dance.

Rawr!

These two were my favorite. They looked positively insane.

It’s such a delight for me to truly celebrate Chinese New Year for the past four years. Growing up, I always thought it was a made-up holiday, even though it was recognized in my Asian-American neighborhood. We had lion dancers perform at my elementary school, and my mom packed chocolate coins into 30 red envelopes for me to deliver to my entire 5th grade class. However, we didn’t get three days off from school nor did I ever see it listed as a holiday in my calendar. I’m thankful to have grown up with this part of my culture still in tact, as year after year, we visited relatives, wrapped dumplings, and feasted on delicious, traditional food cooked by my grandmother.

This year, my good friend Mag welcomed me to her grandmother’s home for a bit of feasting and fun. It was wonderful to be able to spend the holiday with a family. Even though the environment was different, the feeling was the same—listening to relatives laugh and play mahjong in the background while the “kids” (us) played video games and painted our nails. And of course, the food. I grew up with Taiwanese fare, so this was my first Hong Kong experience!

Hong Kong noms.

The whole gang.

What a fantastic way to ring in the Year of the Monkey.

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