As February 8 approaches, there is a strange electricity in the air. For East Coasters, it’s the fact that a winter storm named Nemo is about to sweep in and leave devastation in its wake. But for me, there’s another meaning to this day: It’s the first day of Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year).
Chinese New Year is like Christmas and Thanksgiving rolled into one. It’s celebrated by the Chinese and its associated diasporas, as well as people in most of East and Southeast Asia (in various forms).
It’s a period of family gatherings, visitations, kindness, renewal, gifts and forgiveness. Lasting approximately fifteen days, celebrations centre around food and celebrating prosperity. Families but new clothes and clean the house. Children receive money in red packets instead of gifts (a much better thing to give, in my opinion). The atmosphere is jovial even if it is a little over commercialised.
The most important part of the new year is that families return to their hometowns for a reunion dinner(s). Some of these families see each other once a year.
It’s been four years since I have been back for CNY. I attend an educational institution that does not recognise CNY as a holiday and plus home is almost 10000 miles away. Nonetheless, that doesn’t stop me from missing joviality that comes with CNY.
But now, I’m not so sad about CNY anymore. Because CNY is about celebrating and appreciating your family. My family is still back home, but that’s just one of them. Here in New York I’ve found my other family, one filled by friends who have seen me through thick and thin. That’s the kind of family you don’t get very often.
I’ve found my family, here. And I’m not so sad about CNY anymore.