Happy Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year to all of you on the first day of the Year of the Goat!
What are you supposed to do on the occasion of this most important of all Chinese Holidays? Let the story of little Maomao teach you:

Reunite with your family! Wait for your beloved Daddy to return home – you may not have seen him for one entire year, as he is building big houses in big cities somewhere far away from your little village.

tuanyuan_1Kiss and hug your Dad properly, even if you don’t recognize him, looking haggard and exhausted, and even if his beard scratches your face. At New Year’s Eve, clean your house and yourself, get a haircut and – if you are a Dad – shave your scratchy beard off, pretty please! Put on the new clothes Dad brought from the big city, the only presents he might be able to afford.

Then go out and enjoy the nightly view of your village which is lit by numerous red lanterns, the doors having been decorated with beautiful red scrolls and paper cuts with auspicious phrases on them! You are allowed today to light noisy firecrackers to ward off evil influences.

tuanyuan_2For dinner make dumplings and hide a coin in one of them. Eat around midnight, make sure to find the coin in your dumpling and thus secure all the possible luck and wealth for the coming year.

tuanyuan_3Get tucked into bed between Mom and Dad, drift off to sleep while your parents can’t stop talking this whole blissful night, the night when you are a whole family again.

tuanyuan_4Next morning, get dressed in your new clothes and visit your extended family and friends, wish them a Happy New Year, and while doing so, don’t forget to secure a Hongbao, a red envelope containing money! If your family can’t afford giving money to little girls: don’t worry: most important is the lucky coin from your dumpling! When your Dad has applied a fresh coat of paint on doors and window frames and is finished with everything that needs repair, do what Mommy would not allow: climb onto the roof of your house with Dad, sit on his shoulders and get the best view of the lion dancers in the village streets who will frighten away all evil spirits for the whole next year.

tuanyuan_5After these precious moments, pretend not so see your Mommy secretly wiping a tear off her face while she is packing Daddy’s suitcase.

tuanyuan_6Don’t pout too much when Daddy fiercely hugs you, unable to utter one word. Instead, place your lucky coin into his big hand, as a token which will bring him back next year.

Treasure the luxury of having your loved ones close by, it is something many of China’s 100 million migrant workers can’t afford.

This wonderful picture book, Tuanyuan 团圆, written by Yu Liqiong 余丽琼 and illustrated by reknowned artist Zhu Chengliang 朱成梁, was donated to our Library by the author, who is also an editor at the Nanjing based Publishing Company Dongfang wawa 东方娃娃.

Tuanyuan (Tomorrow Publishing House 2008) won the First Feng Zikai Picture Books Award in 2009 and the English edition (A New Year’s Reunion, Walker Books / Candlewick Press, 2011) was selected as one of the best children’s picture books by The New York Times the same year. A French edition (Réunis, Éditions HongFei Cultures) has just been published in February 2015.

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