Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Preparing for Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year will be this Thursday. People who are far away from home will return home for the holiday. They will prepare special foods and give children pocket money and new clothes.

The preparations for the New year can teach us a few spiritual lessons.

You have to clean the house, especially the kitchen, which can be full of greasy smell because of the stir-fly. If you don't do so, the Kitchen God will give you a bad report. Periodical cleaning is great for your spiritual health too.

I will give out the Chinese word fu for "blessing" on red paper to the students in my spirituality class. I will ask them to clean out a corner of their room and put the word "blessing" there, and create an altar or a space for meditation.

The Chinese like to buy flowers for the New Year. Before his death, my father used to buy narcissus bulbs and cut them at a certain date so that they would blossom during the New Year. He would give each of his children who were no longer living at home narcissus bulbs for the holidays.

The New Year is the beginning of spring. It is fitting to welcome spring in our lives with flowers. Some of the favorite flowers for the Chinese include peony, chrysanthemum, lily. They also like blooming plum and quince branches.

Family and friends gather for a sumptuous meal on New Year's eve. The people in China have a long holiday for the New Year and traffic will be very congested. Those migrant workers will try their best to return home, as the New Year is the most important time to see the families.

To mark the auspicious New Year day, my mother would only eat vegetarian food on that day. She would offer thanksgiving to the ancestors and pray for the coming year.

Since I have moved to the U.S., I do not keep up with the tradition. But this year when I visited my sister in New York several weeks ago, she helped me to select some narcissus bulbs. They are blooming in the kitchen and giving out tiny white and yellow flowers.

My EDS colleagues gave me a large bouquet of flowers at the party yesterday in honor of me for receiving the honorary degree. I was very thankful for their kind gesture. So now I have enough flowers to fill three vases. My daughter is working and can't come home. All I need to do is cleaning up the kitchen and I am all set for the New Year.