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Archive for the ‘Holidays/Celebrations’ Category

Lunar New Year Traditions Explained

Posted by bububooks on February 14, 2010

While many countries in the world celebrate the Lunar New Year (It is Feb. 14 in 2010), most Americans know it as the Chinese New Year.   Below is an article published by the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco.  It explains traditional customs as well as modern traditions adopted by Americans of all types.  Check it out and share how you’ll celebrate the Year of the Tiger!  As for me, I’m heading down to Chicago’s Chinatown for the New Year’s Parade.  I’ll be sure to tweet about it! –Laura

Also, for activities in the classroom, check out this website: Lunar New Year Activities for Kids

Traditional Celebration of the Chinese New Year

Of all the traditional Chinese festivals, the new Year was perhaps the most elaborate, colorful, and important. This was a time for the Chinese to congratulate each other and themselves on having passed through another year, a time to finish out the old, and to welcome in the new year. Common expressions heard at this time are: GUONIAN to have made it through the old year, and BAINIANto congratulate the new year.

Turning Over a New Leaf
The Chinese New year is celebrated on the first day of the First Moon of the lunar calendar. The corresponding date in the solar calendar varies from as early as January 21st to as late as February 19th. Chinese New Year, as the Western new Year, signified turning over a new leaf. Socially, it was a time for family reunions, and for visiting friends and relatives. This holiday, more than any other Chinese holiday, stressed the importance of family ties. The Chinese New year’s Eve dinner gathering was among the most important family occasions of the year.

Sweeping of the Grounds Spring Couplet 1Spring Couplet 2
Preparations for the Chinese New Year in old China started well in advance of the New Year’s Day. The 20th of the Twelfth Moon was set aside for the annual housecleaning, or the “sweeping of the grounds“.Every corner of the house must be swept and cleaned in preparation for the new year. SpringCouplets, written in black ink on large vertical scrolls of red paper, were put on the walls or on the sides of the gate-ways. These couplets, short poems written in Classical Chinese, were expressions of good wishes for the family in the coming year. In addition, symbolic flowers and fruits were used to decorate the house, and colorful new year pictures (NIAN HUA) were placed on the walls (for more descriptions of the symbolism of the flowers and fruits.

Kitchen God
After the house was cleaned it was time to bid farewell to the Kitchen God, or Zaowang. In traditional China, the Kitchen God was regarded as the guardian of the family hearth. He was identified as the inventor of fire, which was necessary for cooking and was also the censor of household morals. By tradition, the Kitchen God left the house on the 23rd of the last month to report to heaven on the behavior of the family. At this time, the family did everything possible to obtain a favorable report from the Kitchen God. On the evening of the 23rd, the family would give the Kitchen God a ritualistic farewell dinner with sweet foods and honey. Some said this was a bribe, others said it sealed his mouth from saying bad thins.

Free from the every-watchful eyes of the Kitchen God, who was supposed to return on the first day of the New Year, the family now prepared for the upcoming celebrations. In old China, stores closed shop on the last two or three days of the year and remained closed for the first week of the New Year. Consequently, families were busy in the last week of the old year stocking up on foods and gifts. Chinese New Year presents are similar in spirit to Christmas presents, although the Chinese tended more often to give food items, such as fruits and tea. The last days of the old year was also the time to settle accumulated. debts.

Family Celebration
On the last day of the old year, everyone was busy either in preparing food for the next two days, or in going to the barbers and getting tidied up for the New Year’s Day. Tradition stipulated that all food be pre-pared before the New Year’s Day, so that all sharp instruments, such as knives and scissors, could be put away to avoid cutting the “luck” of the New Year. The kitchen and well were not to be disturbed on the first day of the Year.

The New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day celebrations were strickly family affairs. All members of the family would gather for the important family meal on the evening of the New year’s Eve. Even if a family member could not attend, an empty seat would be kept to symbolize that person’s presence at the banquet. At midnight following the banquet, the younger members of the family would bow and pay their respects to their parents and elders.

Lai-See
On New Year’s Day, the children were given Red Lai-See Envelopes , good luck money wrapped in little red envelopes. On New Year’s day, everyone had on new clothes, and would put on his best behavior. It was considered improper to tell a lie, raise one’s voice, use indecent language, or break anything on the first day of the year.

Starting from the second day, people began going out to visit friends and relatives, taking with them gifts and Lai-See for the children. Visitors would be greeted with traditional New year delicacies, such as melon seeds, flowersfruitstray of togetherness, and NIANGAO, New Year cakes.

Everybody’s Birthday
The entire first week was a time for socializing and amusement. On the streets, the stores were closed and an air of gaiety prevailed. There were numberous lion dances, acrobats, theatrical shows, and other diversions. Firecrackers, which symbolized driving away evil spirits, were heard throughout the first two weeks of the New year. The Seventh Day of the New Year was called “everybody’s birthday” as everyone was considered one year older as of that date. (In traditional China, individual birthdays were not considered as important as the New Year’s date. Everyone added a year to his age at New Year’s time rather than at his birthday.)

Lantern Festival – 15th Day
The New Year celebrations ended on the 15th of the First Moon with the Lantern Festival. On the evening of that day, people carried lanterns into the streets to take part in a great parade. Young men would highlight the parade with a dragon dance. The dragon was made of bamboo, silk, and paper, and might stretch for more than hundred feet in length. The bobbing and weaving of the dragon was an impressive sight, and formed a fitting finish to the New Year festival.

Chinese New Year Festival as Seen in the United States

The Chinse New Year celebration in San Francisco Chinatown and other Chinese American communitites should not be interpreted as direct transplants of Chinese culture. Due to differences in their social environment and physical limitations, these local celebrations have developed special characteristics of their own. Along with old customs imported directly from China, the Chinatown celebrations also contain adaptations from other cultures in the United States.

Traditional vs Modern
The first point to be noticed in comparing the Chinatown celebrations of today to that described in the preceeding section is that they have been shortened or simplified. Chinese American stores in this country do not close for a week to celebrate, nor is is likely that a Chinese American could take two weeks off from work. Therefore, many of the festivities have been adapted for the evenings or the weekends. This includes the social visits, the family dinners, and even the Chinatown parade, which is always held on a Saturday. In many Chinese American homes, the annual housecleaning is still done at New Year’s time. Spring Couplets can be seen in Chinatwon stores everywhere, but these are now bought from the Chinse Hospital as a fundraising effort – an interesting variation on an old Chinese custom.

In addition to the Spring Couplets, the Chinatown lion dances have also been promoted as a fundraising event for the Chinese Hospital. In the earlier days of Chinatown, lion dances were relatively rare. In the 1920’s, a fundraising program was started whereby lion dancers would go from store to store to dance and wish them luck. In return, storekeepers would give Lai-see packets which were donated to the Chinese Hospital.

Chinatown Festival & Parade
The Chinatown parade is a bend of typical American marching parades and the traditional Lantern Festival. Although the dragon dance is adopted from the Chinese celebration, the rest of theChinatown parade, including the beauty pageant, floats, and marching bands, was obviously inspired by non-Chinese models. The parade was first started in 1953 by the Chinese Chamber of Commerceand has since attracted thousands of spectators each year.

Family Associations
Some Chinatown festivities also reflect the earlier history of Chinese Americans. Prior to the present generation, the Chinese American community was essentially a bachelor society. Restrictive immigration laws had made it extremely difficult for Chinese families to emigrate to the United States. As a result, most Chinese Americans in the past were not able to hold family dinners at New Years’s time. In place of the family banquets, Chinatown developed a unique tradition of Spring Banquets hosted by the “ family associations” in certain Chinese restaurants. These Spring Banquets, originally developed to take the place of family dinners, are still held today, even though Chinatown is no longer a society of single men.

Terminology & Symbolism

Chinese Lunar CalendarChinese CalendarThe Chinese calendar will often show the dates of both the Gregorian (Western) calendar and the Chinese Lunar Calendar. The Gregorian dates are printed in Arabic numerals, and the Chinese dates in Chinese numerals. Chinese Lunar Calendar is based on the cycles of the moon, and is constructed in a different fashion than the Western solar calendar.

Family Associations: organized according to family surnames, such as the Wong Family Association, etc., are social clubs or lodges which were first set up in Chinatown to serve the social and personal needs of Chinese workers.

Flowers: Flowers are an important part of the New year decorations. In old China, much use was made of natural products in celebrations as well as in daily life. The two flowers most associated with the New Year are the plum blossom and the water narcissus

Lai-See Envelopes: (Also called Hong-Bao) Money is placed in these envelopes and given to children and young adults at New Year’s time, much in the spirit as Christmas presents. Presents are also often exchanged between families.

Lucky Character: The single word ” FOOK “, or fortune, is often displayed in many homes and stores. They are usually written by brush on a diamond-shaped piece of red paper.

Plum Blossoms: stand for courage and hope. The blossoms burst forth at the end of winter on a seemingly lifeless branch. In Chinese art, plum blossoms are associated with the entire season of winter and not just the New Year.

Spring Couplet 4Spring Couplet 3Spring Couplets: Spring couplets are traditionally written with black ink on red paper. They are hung in storefronts in the month before the New Year’s Day, and often stay up for two months. They express best wishes and fortune for the coming year. There is a great variety in the writing of these poetic couplets to fit the situation. A store would generally use couplets hat make references to their line of trade. Couplets that say “Happy New Year” and ” Continuing Advancement in Education” are apprpriate for a school.

SweepingOut the Old: Welcoming in the New: Old business from the past year is cleared up

Tangerines, Oranges, Pomelos: Tangerines and oranges are frequently displayed in homes and stores. Tangerines are symbolic of good luck, and oranges are symbolic of wealth. These symbols have developed through a language pun, the word for tangerine having the same sound as “luck” in Chinese, and the word for orange having the same sound as “wealth”. Pomelos are large pear-shaped grapefruits.

Tray of Togetherness: Many families keep a tray full of dried fruits, sweets, and candies to welcome guests and relatives who drop by. This tray is called a chuen-hop, or “tray of togetherness”. Traditionally, it was made up of eight compartments, each of which was filled with a special food item of significance to the New Year season.

Water Narcissus: Flower that blossoms at New Year’s time. If the white flowers blossom exactly on the day of the New Year, it is believed to indicate good fortune for the ensuing twelve months.

Chinese Zodiac: The rotating cycle of twelve animal signs was a fok method for naming the years in traditional China. The animal signs for one another in an established order, and are repeated every twelve years. 1976 was the Year of the Dragon, 1977 was the year of the Snake.


A Different New Year Book:
Learn about about Chinese New Year!

New Year Book

This teacher’s guide, produced as part of the Ethnic Heritage Studies Project of the Chinese Culture Foundation, is an effort to develop teaching materials on the Chinese New Year festival suitable for use in secondary schools. This teacher’s guide was written by Joe Huang. Requests for information concerning this manual or the Ethnic Heritage Studies Project should be addressed to the Chinese Culture Foundation, 750 Kearny Street, San Francisco, CA 94108.

This article was taken from: www.c-c-c.org


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Book Review: Iguanas in the Snow and Other Winter Poems/Iguanas en la nieve y otros poemas de invierno by Francisco X. Alarcón

Posted by bububooks on December 14, 2009

book coverIguanas in the Snow and Other Winter Poems/Iguanas en la nieve y otros poemas de invierno is an absolute delight.  Parents, do not be intimidated by the word poem in the title!  What Francisco X. Alarcón gives us with this picture book is an introduction to image. The poems, short and simple, will teach your children to grow with an acute appetite for sensory details.  This collection, like the others in its series, is very visual and while it explores much associated with winter it also touches on many important themes our children face each day such as identity, community and cultural awareness.

The illustrations, by Maya Christina Gonzalez, are vivid and play a large role in the overall joy that is found in this book.  Gonzalez does an excellent job complimenting each poem and her artwork is colorful and alive.

Suited perfectly for children in grades 3-5, this book will help children begin to build their creative process using small detail.  Because the poems are observations, young readers will be able to identify similar visual details during their own day-to-day experiences.  While in nature, walking to school, or even while spending time with family at home, they may begin to notice detail in a new way, an important skill for all children.  This book, and the others in this seasonal series provide an excellent tool for building sensory skills.

Furthermore, if your child is a young student of Spanish, this book is effective in isolating a few words at a time, so the Spanish does not become overwhelming.  Because the poems are short, they can be broken up into daily lessons.  It is a perfect and joyful book for any age to read.

–Jacey

For this book and the others in its series (Spring, Summer and Fall), click here.  Get it in time for Christmas!

We wanted to share with you one of Jacey’s favorite poems from the book, perfect for the season! Happy Holidays!

Nochebuena                                            Christmas Eve

me encanta                                              I love
el sabroso                                                the delicious
olor                                                            aroma

de tamales                                               of tamales
cociéndose                                              simmering
al vapor                                                    in their steam

toda mi familia                                      my family
a mi alrededor                                        all around me
cantando                                                 singing

las alegres                                              the joyful
canciones de                                          songs of
Las Posadas                                          Las Posadas

todos                                                       everybody
ansiosos                                                eagerly
esperando                                              awaiting

ese ruido                                                that very
de papel                                                 special
tan especial                                          paper noise

que hacen                                             gifts make
los regalos                                           when we
al abrirlos                                             unwrap them

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Remembering the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Posted by bububooks on November 6, 2009

This Monday, November 6, will mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  I was ten years old and living in Europe. My father, an Army soldier, was stationed at Schweinfurt, West Germany, not far from the border with East Germany.  I was in Mr. Ike’s fifth grade class in a Department of Defense school.  I can’t say I remember the day the wall fell, but I certainly remember the trip my family took to Berlin the following February.

Growing up in Germany as a military brat, we were all acutely aware of the Cold War and its implications. Sort of. I thought the Iron Curtain was a real, physical wall between Western and Eastern Europe.  So when we crossed into East Germany on our drive up to Berlin, I was a little surprised to find our entrance so easy and with no wall keeping us out.  I had expected long and scary inspections only to find the entrance so easy that I don’t even remember it.  I also expected East Germany to be a very poor place. Yet on the drive to Berlin, it didn’t look all that different from West Germany (we were driving through rural areas and not through any towns).  I don’t know if that road was designed specifically for Westerners heading to Berlin and if that is why we didn’t see much on our drive.

Once we arrived in Berlin, I remember being struck by the differences on each side of the wall…literally.  The western side was covered in graffiti and already had vendors selling bags fill with chunks of the wall (who knows if they were even real pieces).  The eastern side was pristine, as if it had never been touched.  We didn’t have a hammer and chisel to break off a piece of the wall. We did pull off some crumbs from a hole that had already been created.  Through the hole, I saw the steel bars still in place, holding the wall strong all those years. And I saw an East German guard in his full uniform. My initial reaction was the fear that had been ingrained in me. He was tall (towering to a ten-year-old) and broad-shouldered. He wore his full winter gear including the well-known hat. I looked at him, a little nervous, as I pulled off the crumbs. But he didn’t do anything, just looked at me. He wore no expression on his face, but at that moment, I knew life as we knew it had changed.

Later, my father pointed out Checkpoint Charlie and how it had closed. People could go in and out freely. We headed into East Berlin.  All I really remember from that was our loads of shopping!

Later, because Schweinfurt was so close to the East German border, many East German cars—distinguishable by their size and features—popped up in our town.  While the changes in Germany appeared sudden and drastic, the Cold War would last for several more years. Indeed, during that summer of 1990, we flew to South Korea to spend the summer with my mother’s family.  At that time, however, Korean Airlines did not fly over the Soviet Union.  We had to fly around the world in what would be a 23-hour flight, which included a brief stop in Anchorage to refuel the plane.

Even though the flight was exhausting, I am grateful I got to experience these moments in history first hand. It has affected my outlook on life in that I know the American view isn’t the only view.  The world has changed a lot since fall of the Berlin Wall, but its message still rings true.  The will of the people, at some point or another, will find a way to prevail.

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Celebrate El DÍa de los Muertos

Posted by bububooks on November 2, 2009

Many of you have probably heard of the Day of the Dead, celebrated in Mexico, and more and more in the United States, this time of year.  It is a holiday for family and friends to gather and remember friends and family who have passed away.  Not a somber event, the celebration includes cleaning the house, building an offering, or ofrenda, that includes candles, flowers, their favorite items while alive and other items to help them on their journey and visiting their graves. This holiday also coincides with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

Holidays like the Day of the Dead are celebrated throughout the world and in various cultures, where families come together to honor the dead.  In Korea, for

Celebrations Cover

example, a large feast is cooked. Fruit is placed on the table in odd numbers with the top of one cut off. Chopsticks are placed upright in a bowl of rice. The front door is left opened during the ceremony. These actions allow for the dead to enter and enjoy the food!

Many in the United States have embraced the Day of the Dead holiday. One town in Texas, for instance, held a shoebox ofrenda competition.  There are free processions tonight in San Francisco and Oakland, etc. Check your local area for events!

For more information on ofrenda, check out: http://www.inside-mexico.com/ofrenda.htm and for information on the Day of the Dead holiday, visit http://www.dayofthedead.com/

In the meantime, enjoy the fall and upcoming holidays!

I also would like to use this holiday to highlight a bilingual book we carry at bububooks called: Celebrations / Celebraciones: Holidays of the United States of America and Mexico / Dias feriados de los Estados Unidos y Mexico. In it, author Nancy Tabor explains major holidays in the US and Mexico and how they are celebrated. Be sure to check it out!

Inside Peek to Celebrations

 

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Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept 15-Oct 15

Posted by bububooks on September 17, 2009

iStock_000006456892SmallHispanic Heritage Month began this week.  It originally began as a week long celebration in 1968 when Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim it.  During this month, we celebrate the cultures and traditions of Americans who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and Spanish-speaking countries of Central and South Americas and the Caribbean.  Hispanic Heritage Month begins on Sept 15 because five Latin American countries gained independence from Spain on this day: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.  Also, Mexico celebrates its independence day on Sept. 16th, while Chile celebrates its on the 18th.

National Activities
You can use this month to celebrate Hispanic culture in America and to learn more about it.  There is so much to do!  For a list of events throughout the nation, be sure to check out http://www.hispanicheritagemonth.net/calendar.html.

Children’s Activities
colorin coloradoOf course, with us being a children’s bookstore, we need to focus on activities for the kids!  For that, we turn to our all-time favorite, ¡Colorín colorado! On this page, you can find fun activities for your kids, including word searches and crossword puzzles as well as other activity sheets focusing on words and language.  Also, ¡Colorín colorado! has set up a link where you can send e-cards to your friends and families!  Now, for the adults, this awesome website offers information, history, teaching materials, classroom activities, lesson plans and other resources and links for you to use.  Be sure to bookmark that page!

Children’s Reading List
We at bububooks have also created a book list to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with your children.

Celebrations / Celebraciones: Holidays of the United States of America and Mexico / Dias feriados de los Estados Unidos y Mexico

Celebrations

Explore the ways Mexicans and Americans observe holidays throughout the year and learn how the common values and beliefs these countries share are reflected in their special days.

Purchase this bilingual book

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Somo un arco iris / We are a Rainbow

Rainbow “Are we as different as we might think? I say sol. You say sun. No matter how we say it, it is the same one.” Nancy Maria Grande Tabor, via a simple text and vivid art, establishes that children of two entirely different cultures are really quite similar. We Are a Rainbow helps young readers begin building the cultural bridges of common human understanding through simple comparisons of culture from breakfast foods to legends. Colorful cut-paper art and gentle language deliver this universal message eloquently.

Purchase this bilingual book

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El gusto del mercado Mexicano / A Taste of the Mexican Market

Mexican Market

Let’s visit a Mexican market!

Along the way you can compare, weigh, count, and learn about culture and customs. From bunches of hanging bananas and braids of garlic to pyramids of melon and baskets of sweet cheese, this Mexican market is full of fun and surprises.

Colorful cut-paper art sets the scene for a creative way to build new vocabulary for beginning readers of Spanish or English.

Purchase this bilingual book

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Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems/ Jitomatesrisueños y otros poemas de primavera

Laughing TomatoesFrom the imagination of poet Francisco X. Alarcón comes this playful and moving collection of twenty poems about spring in English and Spanish. Tomatoes laugh, chiles explode, and tortillas applaud the sun! With joy and tenderness, delight and sadness, Francisco’s poems honor the wonders of life and nature: welcoming the morning sun, remembering his grandmother’s songs, paying tribute to children working in the fields, and sharing his dream of a world filled with gardens. Artist Maya Christina Gonzalez invites us to experience the poems with her lively cast of characters—including a spirited grandmother, four vivacious children, and playful pets who tease and delight. Follow them from page to page as they bring the spring season to colorful life.

Purchase this bilingual book

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Ve lo que dices / See What You Say

See what you say

In this entertaining, bilingual exploration of language, children are introduced to a second language and get a glimpse of another culture. Ve lo que dices/See What You Say explores the ways two different cultures view their own languages through familiar idioms. Sometimes the words we use have a different meaning from what we say. For instance, if a person becomes hasty and does things out of order, in English we say he has put the cart before the horse. In Spanish he is starting to build the house at the roof. Although they mean the same thing, the literal sense of these phrases is quite different. In Ve lo que dices/See What You Say, these contrasting expressions become charming and vivid vignettes.

Nancy María Grande Tabor’s signature cut paper illustrations are remarkable in their three-dimensional quality and light-hearted presentation of some very off-the-wall phrases. Children and adults alike will have a great time guessing what idiom each illustration represents.

Purchase this bilingual book

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Where Fireflies Dance / Ahí donde bailan las luciérnagas

where fireflies danceIn her first book for children, award-winning author Lucha Corpi remembers her childhood growing up in Jáltipan, Mexico, where the moon hung low and the fireflies flickered in the night air. In vivid and poetic detail, she recalls exploring with her brother the old haunted house of the legendary revolutionary Juan Sebastián, discovering the music that came from the jukebox at the local cantina, and getting caught by their mother for their mischievous adventures. Most of all, she remembers the ballads her father sang and the stories her grandmother told. In her stories, her grandmother passes on an important message about growing up—each person, like the revolutionary Juan Sebastián, has a destiny to follow.

Purchase this bilingual book

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Flag Quiz
Click here to test your knowledge of flags throughout Latin America, provided by WTXL ABC 27 in Tallahassee, Fla. Bet you’ll beat Laura!

Fun Facts
For some interesting statistics on the Hispanic population in America, click here.  Test your knowledge and learn more too!

Activities in Chicago
For events occurring throughout Hispanic Heritage Month in Chicago, check out ABC 7 Chicago’s The Ñ Beat with Theresa Gutierrez. Click here for more information.

Activities in South Georgia
Valdosta State University will host several events throughout month.  See the list here–hope to see you there!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this posting and are excited as we are to check out some of these events.  Feel free to share more!

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“Perfect American English”

Posted by bububooks on July 5, 2009

From The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan:

Cover of the first edition

Cover of the first edition

          “The old woman remembered a swan she had bought many years ago in Shanghai for a foolish sum.  This bird, boasted the market vendor, was once a duck that stretched its neck in hopes of becoming a goose, and now look!—it is too beautiful to eat.

            Then the woman and the swan sailed across an ocean many thousands of li wide, stretching their necks toward America.  On her journey she cooed the swan: ‘In America I will have a daughter just like me.  But over there nobody will say her worth is measured by the loudness of her husband’s belch.  Over there nobody will look down on her, because I will make her speak only perfect American English.  And over there she will always be too full to swallow any sorrow!  She will know my meaning, because I will give her this swan—a creature that became more than what was hoped for.’

            But when she arrived in the new country, the immigration officials pulled her swan away from her, leaving the woman fluttering her arms and with only one swan feather for a memory.  And then she had to fill out so many forms she forgot why she had come and what she had left behind.

            Now the woman was old.  And she had a daughter who grew up speaking only English and swallowing more Coca-Cola than sorrow.  For a long time now the woman had wanted to give her daughter the single swan feather and tell her, ‘This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions.’  And she waited, year after year, for the day she could tell her daughter this in perfect American English.”

 

This story moves me every time.  The woman gave her daughter a better life in America than she could in China, yet something was also lost.  When would the daughter be able to understand her mother’s intentions or even her mother’s story? 

Last week, I met up with a friend from undergrad.  She and I are both half Korean, half white.  We shared stories about our mothers’ backgrounds in Korea, how our parents met, the paths they traveled to get to the U.S., our mothers’ antics as well as when we finally began to understand some of those antics.  I enjoyed our conversation and, of course, learned more about myself and my mother in the process.      

I am proud to be an American.  I’m also proud to be an American of mixed heritage.  I enjoy my life here and know I could not have had it any better in Korea.  Sometimes, though, I wish I could speak to my mom’s family.  I wish I could better understand where my mom is coming from, her point of view, her intentions.  I know that will probably never happen.  And I know that my future children will lose a lot of their Korean heritage as well.  

But what we can salvage will be worth it.  Happy Fourth of July America!

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Celebrate Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

Posted by bububooks on May 11, 2009

Every year since 1979, America has celebrated the contributions and achievements of Asian/Pacific Americans during the month of May.  At an estimated population of 15.2 million in July 2007, Asian/Pacific Americans comprise the fastest growing race group in the United States. 

Asia represents a diverse group of people and languages, ranging from countries as far away as India, traveling east to China and Japan and south down to Vietnam and Indonesia and then further east to Hawai’i and Samoa.  Asian/Pacific Americans have contributed to American culture and national well-being in a myriad of ways, too many to mention here.

bububooks currently offers Chinese/English bilingual storybooks that highlight Chinese culture through traditional stories as well as chengyu, or idioms.  Be sure to check out our website (www.bububooks.com) as you celebrate!  We plan to expand to include other Asian languages as we continue to grow.

For more information on the history of Asian/Pacific Americans as well as population statistics, please visit: www.infoplease.com/spot/asianhistory1.html

For information on events throughout the country celebrating Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, please visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_Pacific_American_Heritage_Month

National events in Washington, D.C.: http://asianpacificheritage.gov/

Events in Chicago (bububooks’ headquarters): http://www.chipublib.org/eventsprog/programs/aphm_08.php

For general information on Asian/Pacific Americans and our heritage, visit: http://www.asian-nation.org/heritage.shtml

Finally, I’ve copied and pasted below a top-ten list of ways to celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month from Asian Nation’s website.  It’s tailored to Asian/Pacific Americans, but I think everyone could try these suggestions regardless of heritage or race. 

Thank you and Happy Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month!  Please share with me how you have celebrated or plan to celebrate Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.

From http://www.asian-nation.org/heritage.shtml:
The following is written by Rodney Jay C. Salinas, formerly of the Rainmaker Political Group LLC, and he suggests different ways of celebrating APA Heritage Month.

As a federal law, APA Heritage Month is observed throughout the country. Many federal departments and agencies host official observances during the month of May. Such events host important speakers, cultural performances, traditional foods, etc. Across the nation, local Asian Pacific American organizations host their own events to celebrate the month. But the true celebration begins with the individual. Below are ten good things that all of us can do to learn more about ourselves and raise broad awareness of this special occasion.

10. Instead of just eating at an Asian restaurant, talk to the owners. Learn more about their stories, how they went about establishing their business, the obstacles they’ve faced, local issues that they care about as business-owners. It will give you a better sense of just how difficult it is to establish a business, especially if the owners are first-generation immigrants.

9. Attend an Asian Pacific American temple, mosque, or church, even if it’s not your own religion. There are thousands of religious establishments that were created by and for Asian Pacific Americans. By learning about a person’s religion or spiritual beliefs, you can get a better sense of his or her value system and motivation.

8. Get as many members of your family together in one place and just enjoy each other’s company. Put the mah jong tables away for one weekend. Talk about your family’s history. How did your family come to the United States? Where did they first settle? What kinds of hardships did they face?

7. Flip through any popular magazine and carefully look at how they portray Asian Pacific Americans. Are the portrayals negative? Positive? Are the women portrayed as “exotic, sex symbols?” What other kinds of stereotypes are depicted? What kind of message do you think this sends to other readers?

6. Spend a few hours and talk to a young person. Don’t talk about superficial garbage. Ask them tough, thought-provoking questions. Have you been asked to try drugs? Have you been pressured by your friends to have sex? Have you ever thought about suicide? Are you afraid of violence in your own school? Do you get picked on because you’re Asian Pacific American? Hopefully, they’ll give you honest, direct answers, and you’ll know just the kinds of pressures facing the youth of today.

5. Chances are, you might have a friend or know of someone who was adopted. Every year, more and more children from Asia are being adopted by non-Asian families in the United States. Ask your friend about his or her experiences growing up: was it difficult growing up as an Asian Pacific American with Caucasian or African American parents? Were you exposed to your Asian culture?

4. Visit the Census Bureau’s Web site, type in your city and state, and look up the most recent demographics of your area. This is an excellent way to survey your surroundings and understand how the population is shifting. In many cases, you’ll see a significant increase in the Asian Pacific American population.

3. Go to your local bookstore and pick up a book. The book doesn’t even need to be specifically about Asian Pacific Americans, as long as it’s written by one. Because each author writes through their unique “lens” and their perspective is reflected in their writing, the book could be about anything under the sun (i.e., popular culture, fiction, biography, etc.).

2. Do a little bit of personal reflection. Ask yourself some basic questions: Do I really identify as an Asian Pacific American? How much does my nationality or ethnic heritage affect my daily life? Do I think that members of my nationality or ethnic group are superior to others? The answers might enlighten (or scare) you.

1. Tell a non-Asian Pacific American that May is recognized as Asian Pacific American month! This is perhaps the simplest, yet most effective way to raise awareness. Tell him or her what it means to you, invite them to a local event, or share an historical fact with them.

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