At the beginning of each year, as the Lunar New Year approaches, Chinese media in North America experiences one of its most cluttered periods of advertising as local businesses within the Chinese community, and top national brands flock to acknowledge the holiday.
Symbolic food plays a big role in Chinese culture. Foods at the Chinese New Year table are thought to promote happiness, longevity, and other common new year themes. Tea eggs are said to symbolize golden nuggets and are served to promote prosperity and wealth in the new year.
This time last year I traveled to Taiwan from California to celebrate Chinese New Year with my 90-year-old grandmother. Born and raised in the United States, it was the first time in my 30-plus years that I'd experienced the holiday in Asia.
Every American stands on the shoulders of courageous, hard-working ancestors who came here from another country, bringing their cultures with them. Each of us is justifiably proud of our culture and heritage, and we deserve to see them respected, if not honored.
Unfortunate souls in other parts of the country are buckling down and preparing to face the harshest weather of the season, but for us Los Angelenos even the temporary bursts of sweater weather are a thing of the past.
Cheerful and warm colors and accessories reflecting the element of fire help attract good luck and good health in 2014. Consider accents of purple, orange and red to bring brightness to the room and kindle closeness and conversation.
With each day, the sun warms our bodies and our hearts with a few more minutes of light as we move slowly toward Vernal Equinox and spring. Each religious tradition has expressed thoughts about this transition in our year and thus in our lives, both physical and spiritual.
A 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat with Noble Silence, 4 a.m. starts and 10 hours of meditation daily was never going to be easy, but combining it with communal living and random explosions probably made it even harder.
Every year offers a unique set of challenges and opportunities. By following the guidance of the five elements in 2013 we can learn to ride the water wave and avoid being scorched by the fire. Have a happy and healthy year of the serpent.
During my eight years in Taiwan, I learned to adore Chinese food in all its permutations. One sweet snack I loved in particular would start showing up in the local pastry shops as Chinese New Year rolled around.