Thursday, January 27, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year (the Year of the Rabbit) is just around the corner and families all around Hong Kong are preparing for the New Year. On Friday our school is going to have a Chinese New Year celebration (more pictures to follow hopefully). The city is decorated with red signs, streamers, fake cherry blossom trees and lanterns. Shops are crammed full of red envelopes from the simple to ornate (and don't forget Hello Kitty), ready to be taken home and stuffed full of money (even numbers only please) for the children and unmarried family members.
This is the year of the Rabbit. At first I thought they had their seasons mixed up as all the pictures of fuzzy cute rabbits everywhere made me think of spring time! Superstition says the year of the Rabbit is "a time to catch your breath and calm your nerves." Sounds good to me!

With this lucky time of year there is(of course) special food eaten and symbolism found in that food:
fried rice - Rice (米饭; mǐfàn) - fertility, luck, wealth, rice symbolizes a link between Heaven (Gods) and Earth (Men)

fried noodle with soy sauce & pork - Noodles (面条; miàntiáo) uncut - long life, Pork (猪肉; zhūròu) - strength, wealth, abundant blessing

red "togetherness" tray with candy/nuts - Candy and nuts are served on a round tray, the form resembling togetherness, hence the tray is called the 'Tray of Togetherness'. If items on the tray add up to the number 8, eight is a lucky number and symbolises fortune. Candy, (糖果;tángguǒ) - safety, good fortune and 'sweeten' the new year, Seeds - lotus seeds, watermelon seeds, etc. - having a large number of children 籽 [zǐ], Peanuts (花生; huāshēng) - health, long life, birth of prosperity, continuous growth, multiplication in wealth and good fortune, stability, Walnut (核桃仁; hétàorén) - happiness of the entire family, Cashew nut (腰果, yāoguǒ)- gold, money (the nut's shape symbolises the gold bar of ancient times)

mandarin oranges or other citrus - Orange (柑橘; gānjú) - wealth, good fortune, gold , Mandarin (瓯柑; ōugān) - gold, wealth, Tangerine (橘; jú) - luck, Pomelo (柚子; yòuzi) - abundance, prosperity, having children, good health, family unity, Kumquat (金橘; jīn jú) - gold, hence fortune, wealth

As I am an avid cleaner and love a chance to re-organize my home, I found some interesting trivia about cleaning house for Chinese New Year.

" It is believed the cleaning sweeps away the bad luck of the preceding year and makes their homes ready for good luck. Brooms and dust pans are put away on the first day so that the newly arrived good luck cannot be swept away. Some people give their homes, doors and window-frames a new coat of red paint. Homes are often decorated with paper cutouts of Chinese auspicious phrases and couplets. Purchasing new clothing, shoes, and receiving a hair-cut also symbolize a fresh start." (Wikipedia)

Good thing we just bought a new vacuum and Brad rid our house of the "bad luck dust bunnies". Now all I need is a new pair of shoes.....

Monday, January 24, 2011

Winter Hibernation

"Emily what has happened to your blog?"
"Why are there no new posts......"
"Where have you guys been??"

blog has not died, it was just hibernating for part of the winter (which has been cold here in HK) while we have been catching up on other things in life after Christmas break. I am a bad picture taker so while we have been very busy over the past 2 weeks since Christmas break I don't have many pictures to show for it (and I hate blog entries without pictures). Here are some high lights over the past two weeks:
  • We have been having new friends for dinner.
  • Work has been very busy for both of us recently.
  • Planning our India trip with our neighbors (we leave on Saturday for a week's adventure). Pray that no one gets sick, as most people get some sort of "Delhi Belly"
  • Trying to figure out summer plans and if I want to do the "Trans-Siberian Railroad", Brad really REALLY REALLY wants to go....I still have some reservations.....
  • Buying new plants (orchid and coffee plant)
  • Seeing Rudy and taking him to the dog park (which is highly entertaining), if only we had a video camera we would have many submissions to "America's Funniest Home Videos" (if that show is still around). Rudy's picture made it into chapel last week, so pretty much he is famous at our school!
  • Bought a vacuum, which has changed MY LIFE. It is a small vacuum so it can fit in compact storage but that sucker is powerful.
  • High tea with the ladies on my floor, very fun!
  • Catching up with emails and our blog :-)
The next blog entry will be after our India trip (or on the trip we have time to blog). Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas Vacation

It has been a busy two weeks of Christmas vacation, but I finally have pictures and here are a few fun things that we have done with my family. It is really sad that we have to go back to work! Mom and dad are here until Wednesday and Julie and Tyler will be here for another week.

The "kids" on Christmas day
A great pumpkin pie
Mom and dad bought a small turkey and we figured out how to cook it in our tiny oven. We had a great Christmas dinner, we all got turkey and Ruthie got green bean casserole. Thanks Mom and Dad!
Dad and Brad enjoying some bubble tea as we waited for the bus

10,000 Buddhas (another straight up the mountain hike)
Cheung Chau Island (lots of stairs but beautiful scenery)

Dim Sum (Julie, mom and I are becoming more adept at using chopsticks)
Mom was so brave to try Chicken fingers (but she had to close her eyes for every bite).
Tyler eating Chicken "fingers" (he was upset that it kept on picking his nose for him)
Tea at the Peninsula Hotel
Dragon's back hike (we did a lot of steep hiking during this vacation, we all have legs of steel now)
Avenue of the Stars "Bruce Lee"
Who makes a better Bruce Lee statue? Brad or Tyler?

After the Nutcracker (It was an amazing ballet!)

Sai Kung Hike (it ended up being much longer than we anticipated)
Amazing pizza after a very long hike (the pizza was 2 feet in diameter)

The Peak on New Years eve (Dad was taking the picture, so he isn't in it)

New Years Eve on top of IFC Mall (amazing fireworks!!)
Sight seeing as of today: Seated Buddha (although you guys have already seen pictures of the Buddha so here is a picture of Julie and Tyler).