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Chinese New Year Is Different When You're the Parent Instead of the Kid

"At school, it was easy to shed my Chinese-ness at the door," Christine Yu writes of her Connecticut childhood as the daughter of immigrants from Hong Kong and one of the few non-white people at her school. "It was easier to linger on the similarities and blend in rather than call out the stark contrasts among us."

 

At the time, Yu was interested in leaving her Chinese self at home, where the adults would play mahjong upstairs after holiday meals with extended family members.

 

But what happens when the child who grows used to shedding her Chinese-ness grows up and has children of her own? And what happens when those children are eager to grasp the culture their mother so casually left behind but have no idea what people do on Chinese New Year?

 

Once Yu started her own family, she writes: "I could feel the weight of responsibility bearing down on my shoulders again. This time, instead of casting aside my background, it’s my heritage tying me to the past and the future and the responsibility to help my children know and understand where they come from."

 

But there's a problem: She has the Cantonese of a 3-year-old, she can't replicate the childhood traditions she remembers, and she doesn't quite know how best to share her heritage with her children.

 

READ MORE [The Washington Post]

 

Chinese New Year takes place on Friday, Feb. 16. This year's zodiac animal is a dog.

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