Happy Lunar New Year!
This year is the year of the Ox, and the Chinese word for ox (Niu) sounds like the word "New", so everywhere I go there are signs that say Happy 牛 Year!
I was very Taiwanese in my New Years' celebrations this year, which I spent with one of my favorite families.
I ate dinner with the Chen family who pastor a small church in Yilan county. I usually go to their house once a week for dinner. We had hot pot (ironically with beef in it.... I guess it's not a lucky year for the cow).
We also had a vegetable called "chang nian cai" a bitter vegetable which is traditionally eaten at this time of the year. The Chinese name of the vegetable and many other tradtional foods sounds like a blessing or wish for good luck in the coming year.
I also gave red envelopes to their four daughters.
Then we went outside and played with sparklers and firecrackers.
I'm still hearing some tonight, and probably will all week.
Pastor Ivan shared some similarities to passover, where the Israelites ate bitter herbs to remember their suffering, and put blood on their doors. He likened it to the red banners that Chinese put on their door frames.
You can buy these banners everywhere, and have them custom-made by calligraphers who set up shop around town.
When my parents came two years ago, we had some made by a Christian calligrapher who would make a poem of blessing out of your name, or the names of your family members.