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農曆新年是傳統中國人全家團圓的日子，曾在樂齡會工作20多年的劉綺君想到新冠疫情以來，許多年輕華人已好久沒與家中長輩相聚，為了傳承全家團圓的傳統，她與同在樂齡會工作的王申共同發起舉辦雲端雙語慶祝活動，並得到樂齡會馬州辦公室主任Hank Greenberg和執行委員會Jim Campbell的全力支持。
Christmas and Chinese Lunar New Year
Julian Wang (President, Washington Chinese Writers Association)(Transtated by Lily Liu)
1988 was my third Christmas in the United States. It was also the first time I spent a five-day Christmas holiday in the home of a good American friend. I discovered that there are many striking similarities between celebrating Christmas and celebrating the Chinese New Year.
On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, we arrived in Helena, the capital of Montana, in the middle of a heavy snowstorm. My friend’s three siblings also arrived at their parents home by plane or car. In the evening, the whole family gathered for a Christmas Eve dinner together. In the Chinese tradition, in celebrating the Lunar New Year, it is also important is to make it home to be with the entire family and gather around the table to have a Reunion Dinner together.
After the meal, we had to make our way to a local bar, something, especially on Christmas Eve, my friend said she had to do. She explained it was an unwritten rule that all the young travelers who arrived home that same day had to go there. Back then, there was no e-mail and no Facebook, so once you got to that bar, you’d know which friends had come home. You could catch up on all that each person had experienced during the past year.
The next day, early Christmas morning, after everyone had opened their gifts, the family went to church to worship. Similarly, most Chinese families on New Year’s Day would hand out the lucky red envelopes with money inside, and then most of them would enjoy being at home together, or go to worship their ancestors at a temple, a ritual like prayer in Western religions.
After returning home from church, Christmas songs played all day long in the house, and the joyous atmosphere was very similar to ours during the Chinese Lunar New Year, except that in our homes we would play happy new year songs. Guests came to visit throughout the afternoon. The first words said when the door was opened were: "Merry Christmas!" Then there would be a burst of happy noise. Most of the visitors were either neighbors or relatives and friends who were visiting from other places. This was also like what I experienced as a child living in the military village in Taiwan. On the first day of the Lunar New Year, one after another, uncles, aunts, and friends knocked on our door to greet us in the new year. The first sentence out of their mouths was "Congratulations on the new year. "
Before the Chinese Lunar New Year, every family would prepare enough traditional New Year dishes and sweets for many days, so that there would be no need to cook during the holiday. During those five days of Christmas vacation in Helena, the hostess had also made prior arrangements for the dinner entrees such as pot roast, baked chicken, etc., which were already cooked and placed in different pans. These pots and pans were then all put outside on the balcony. In the freezing cold temperatures, all the food would freeze. Then on the day a dish was to be eaten, it was brought into the kitchen and warmed up. All the hostess had to do was to make some fresh salad and there would be a delicious dinner every evening.
In the blink of an eye, so many Chinese Lunar New Years have passed. That first Christmas in a friends home in America has always been a special memory of the first time that I truly celebrated Chinese New Year away from my homeland.
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