Lunar New Year 2022 – Year of the Tiger- February 1, 2022

I’m back after a little break from blogging! If you’ve been following my blog and saw my Lunar New Year post from last year, the Year of the Ox, you won’t be surprised with this post. If you’re thinking I’m going to make an annual tradition out of this, you’re right!

Unlike last year, I’m not struggling with the blues this winter, yay! And unlike last year, I’m now going to my NYC office twice a week. With the never-ending news of Asians of all ages being attacked, you bet I’m on high alert while walking on sidewalks, in Port Authority, and in the subways! 

Like last year, I’m still participating in my town’s initiative to encourage diversity and inclusion within my community.  It takes a village–both literally and figuratively–to counter racism, since racism exists in all communities, whether you’re aware of it or not.  The more community members take part in such initiatives, the better off all communities would be! Racism comes from stereotypes that come from ignorance that comes from fear. Communication and information have the power to wipe away all of that! But it takes a unified effort from within each and every community. There should be a ZERO tolerance for hate and racism!

And like last year, I’ve been asked to help my local diversity group to come up with information to share about the Lunar New Year.  I am honored to be part of the Advisory Council for that group and that they adapted the information below to share with our community.  

 


Interesting Facts about Lunar New Year

I created a 1-pager that contains 8 (8 is a lucky number for the Chinese) key points on the Lunar New Year on one side and a little tutorial on stroke order for the tiger character in Chinese plus a fun Word Search activity on the other side. This piece is great for sharing with kids and raise their interest and appreciation at an early age of the East Asian cultures that celebrate Lunar New Year!

The information contained in my blog post below is lengthier and couldn’t be jammed in to a 1-page document about Lunar New Year. Some of the information is even new to me, and all of it is just so fascinating that I had to share! Thank you for reading and sharing!

NYC Chinatown Chinese New Year parade years ago

The largest human migration in the world

Did you know that 3 billion trips are made each year (including return trips) to visit relatives by plane, train and automobile to celebrate Chinese New Year?  Referred to as chunyun (春运), it is the travel period up to 15 days before the week-long observance of China’s Spring Festival (or chunjie (春) and up to 40 days. It is up to 40 days in part due to the lack of transportation options available for the millions to make each one-way trek during the same timeframe.  Depending on one’s luck in buying airplane/train/bus tickets, travelers end up traveling within the window 15 days prior to the start of and 15 days after chunjie ends. This year, chunjie starts on January 31 (New Year’s Eve) and ends on February 15. In modern China, most elderly parents still live in the rural villages of their ancestors, while the younger generation works in the cities.  Why do they call it Spring Festival when it takes place during the winter?  The Festival marks the end of the coldest days of winter, with people welcoming the coming spring with planting, which represents new beginnings and fresh starts.

Most & Least Compatible Signs

Most Compatible Signs/Lucky Years: Dog, Horse
Semi-Compatible Signs:  Dragon, Rat
Incompatible Signs:  Monkey, Snake

A few celebrities who were born during the year of the TIGER

Ludwig van Beethoven

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Queen Elizabeth II

Sun Yat-Sen

Mary Queen of Scots

Marco Polo

Ho Chi Minh

General Charles de Gaulle

Charles Lindbergh

Jonas Salk

Emily Bronte

Emily Dickinson

H.G. Wells

Agatha Christie

Marilyn Monroe

Jay Leno

Jon Stewart

Stevie Wonder

Demi Moore

Jodie Foster

Rosie O’Donnell

Hilary Swank

Dylan Thomas

Hugh Hefner

Lionel Ritchie

Kenny Rogers

Jon Bon Jovi

 

 

My collection of red envelopes saved through the years

More on Chinese New Year red envelopes

Etiquette:

1. Do gift crisp, new bills, as gifting dirty or wrinkled bills is in bad taste.

2. Do receive a red envelope with both hands and express thanks with an appropriate phrase. It is considered impolite to receive a red envelope with one hand and not express thanks with an appropriate phrase.

3. Don’t gift coins.

4.  Don’t give amounts starting with the number 4, like $4, $40 or $400.  The number ‘4’ Chinese sounds like ‘death’ and is therefore considered bad luck. Even numbers are better than odd numbers.  The number ‘8’ is considered good luck, so gifts like $8, $80 or $88 would be best.

5. Don’t open your red envelope in front of the person who just gave it to you.

Taboos and Superstitions

As in practically all other cultures around the world, there are a lot of taboos and superstitions adapted over the course of centuries, all of which have the intent of attracting good fortune into the New Year and protecting against bad fortune.

Do’s:

  • Do talk about good, happy things to set the tone for the new year
  • Do pay back your debts before the new year starts
  • Do wear red because red is the luckiest color

Don’ts:           

  • Don’t cut your hair on during the New Year, as that would cause connections to be severed
  • Don’t wear black or white, as both colors are associated with mourning
  • Don’t wash your hair or do laundry on the 1st or 2nd day of the new year, as that would wash good fortune away
  • Don’t sweep on the 1st or 2nd day of the new year, as that will sweep away accrued wealth / luck
  • Don’t cry or argue, as that will bring bad fortune

Stopping AAPI Hate

I started Asian/Pacific Heritage Month (APAH Month) with my last post about the month, and as it comes to a close, I wanted to share the following that I learned from a recent Zoom event held by our company for its employees in the wake of the rise in anti-Asian hate around the country. I am grateful for my company’s leadership in the messages it has been sharing in support of Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and for my colleagues who have been working to organize such events.  I know I am digressing yet again from all things postpartum depression on my PPD blog, but as some of you know, I have blogged previously about experiencing racism while growing up, and it’s an issue that is even more important to me now than ever before due to the alarming rise in anti-Asian hate incidents around the country since COVID started.  I can’t keep quiet about this.  What’s happening isn’t right, and I fully blame the past administration and its racist rhetoric for where we are today.  We must counter the uptick in anti-Asian hate with an uptick in education (in schools, in social media, in companies, in communities) about Asian American history.  There must be an uptick in flocking (read on to find out more about flocking) and advocacy among the AAPI around the country.  We can’t just simply rely on a handful of advocates who are actors, like Daniel Dae Kim, or in government, like Grace Meng. 

Thank you in advance for taking the time to read on. But before you do, here is a fascinating read I stumbled across today.  It’s a research paper titled “Anti-Asian American Racism, COVID-19, Racism Contested, Humor, and Empathy” written by Peter Huang of the Univ of Colorado Law School.  

In 2020, Dr. Russell Jeung launched Stop AAPI Hate, which tracks Covid-19 related discrimination in order to develop community resources and policy interventions to fight racism.  The tracking starting from 3/19/2020-3/21/21 reveals statistics summarized in this report. Other initiatives he’s working on include working with Disney and Tik Tok for messaging to reach young audiences, as it is critical for our future generations to understand the importance of embracing diversity and understanding Asian American history in this country.

Dr. Jeung has been a professor of the San Francisco State University’s Asian American Studies Department since 2002.  He is the author of 5 books and co-produced the documentary, The Oak Park Story (2010), about a landmark housing lawsuit involving his fellow Cambodian and Latino tenants.  His research interests include the Sociology of Race, the Sociology of Religion, and Social Movements. Dr. Jeung is extensively engaged with his students in conducting community-based, participatory research with Asian American communities.  See his complete bio here: https://faculty.sfsu.edu/~rjeung/

Dr. Jeung was invited to speak to employees at my company via Zoom.  Below is a summary of the information shared by him, which I wish more people from my company would watch, as it contains such valuable information that I myself didn’t even know before!

PERPETUAL FOREIGNER STEREOTYPE

Dr. Jeung starts with the explanation of the perpetual foreigner stereotype.  It is one in which those who look Chinese are objectified as outsiders not to be allowed into the United States.  This is different from how Europeans have historically been treated.  People viewing Chinese as a threat arose when they first immigrated to the U.S. and this view has always been in the racial subconscious of America.  Back in the 1800s, there was yellow peril fear that the Chinese were invading the West with diseases (cholera, etc) and were objectified as outsiders.  People yelled racial epithets at the Chinese due to differences in skin color and eyes (and unfortunately that still happens all too often today). The stereotype was based also on the fear that the Chinese were taking away white people’s jobs.  This is why the U.S. passed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.  During the bubonic plague in 1900, the Chinese were segregated from whites due to the fear at the time that all Chinese were disease carriers.

As a result of the perpetual foreigner stereotype, Chinese and other east Asians have feelings of self doubt when it comes to belonging in the U.S.   People are being racially profiled because of political rhetoric and the words “Chinese Virus” and “Kung-Flu” deliberately uttered by the former President to prompt citizens to cast blame on all Chinese. Unfortunately, all those who look Chinese are being lumped together to be victims of the anti-Asian attacks that have been spurred on by the President’s words. The biological virus of COVID has been racialized, causing the assumption and association of all Chinese being disease carriers (and back to the 1800s and early 1900s we go). Such automatic assumptions and racial schema on ways people perceive the world is referred to as implicit bias.  When we see the President and hear him say these words over and over, the terms become chemically hardwired in brains that determine how individuals perceive and relate to others based on their race.  So, when people see Asians, they think coronavirus.  They think of Asians as a threat and they go into fight or flight mode (again, back to the 1800s and early 1900s we go).  They either attack or shun us. The physical appearance of looking Chinese is triggering others not necessarily due to intentional racism but implicit bias. 

For example, I used to believe an Asian person with a mask on is more likely to be sick with some kind Avian flu simply because we are not accustomed to seeing people wearing masks in the U.S.  That is just a conclusion that is drawn based on minimal knowledge of how another culture behaves.  The Chinese tend to be more conscious of others and therefore wear masks out of consideration for others.  They tend to wear masks to not only protect themselves from getting sick but to ensure that they don’t pass on an illness to others.  As we all come out of lockdown, with people looking for someone to blame and take their pent-up feelings of fear and anger out on someone, people who look Chinese are on the receiving end. The previous administration institutionalized the perpetual foreigner stereotype via his racist rhetoric, stopping immigration Visas, banning Chinese scientists from coming into this country, and cutting refugee resettlements.  These actions disproportionately impacted AAPI individuals.  The repercussions have been insidious and pervasive as with the thousands of verbal harassments and physical attacks registered with Stop AAPI Hate since March 2020 to date…. and even deadly (as with the Atlanta shootings).   Stop AAPI Hate was founded to track incidents and hold government accountable (that there would be no exclusion, segregation, detention, deportation and instead proof for governments to do something to address what’s happening).  7% of the cases reported were of people coughing/spitting. 11% of the cases reported were of people pushing, shoving, throwing rocks/bottles and even attempting to run people over with cars.  

AAPI have had their own fight versus flight response to what is happening.  Our fight response is learning self-defense and carrying mace with us.  Our flight response is telling our grandparents to stay indoors and children to stay home from school.  But we’ve also had a “flock” response in which we flock together to grieve and find solace, strength and support and to magnify our voices / amplify our concerns with fellow AAPI.  Our voices coming together has been critical to the creation of a collective voice, which has not only prompted Biden to create a White House initiative but the DOJ to make policy changes as well.  We should flock back to the community in support of Asian-run restaurants and nail salons that have suffered disproportionately (from people fearing they’ll catch COVID from these businesses) with daily early closures to allow employees to go home earlier for safety reasons and with unfortunate lay-offs due to lack of business.

A SYSTEM OF BINARIES & THE MODEL MINORITY STEREOTYPE

During the Zoom, Dr. Jeung showed us a slide depicting the white / black binary on vertical axis and insider (model minority stereotype) / outsider (perpetual foreigner stereotype) on the horizontal axis, and where AAPI fit in.  Because we are neither black nor white, we all too often feel invisible and excluded from race relations discussions.  We’re either insiders or outsiders.  We’re asked where we’re from because the assumption is we’re outsiders and don’t belong here (i.e., perpetual foreigner). We look different, eat different foods, talk differently (some AAPI citizens have accents if they’re not born here and can speak another language fluently), and have different religions (if we’re not atheist or Christian). On the other hand, sometimes we’re perceived as the model minority –i.e., “You’re successful because you’re Asian and hardworking” – and as belonging in the U.S. as white adjacent (we’re doing as well as whites).  But when times are tough, AAPI are scapegoated and treated as perpetual foreigners—e.g., in times of war (Japanese incarceration), times of economic downturn (laid-off auto workers killing Vincent Chin), and times of COVID (anti-Asian hate crimes now up over 150%).  AAPI are not perceived as real Americans (even though a large percentage of us are born here), and are told to “Go back to China, you fxxxing chink! Go back to where you came from. You don’t belong here.” This is happening to other AAPI that are NOT Chinese—for example, a Latino in LA was punched and shoved and told to go back to China, and an indigenous person in Vancouver was punched and shoved and told to go back to China. There are tons of other cases of this registered via Stop AAPI Hate.

AAPI are not seen as individuals but characterized one way or another based on stereotypes and boxed into this binary situation. On the one hand, many AAPI partner with BLM to dismantle the system that created the white/black binary.  On the other hand, many AAPI want the status, power, and privilege of being white. Many AAPI want whiteness to better fit into the society they live in. In my personal opinion from lifelong observations, there are many  AAPI who don’t flock with other AAPI because they don’t want their status to be jeopardized.  They may shun the Asian parts of themselves and prefer to identify as white Christians, with predominantly white friends living in a predominantly white community and feel no need to identify with other AAPI, acknowledge their ethnic heritage, learn their ethnic language, attend cultural events, and relate to others of their ethnicity, period.  In fact, some of them poke fun at other AAPI as if they were white themselves!  And that, my friends, is a shame but the unfortunate consequence of the insider/outsider binary.  You’re either on one side or the other.

In terms of what we can do to help ourselves, Dr. Jeung encourages us to teach our children about empathy, self-respect, pride, and awareness of systematic injustices and why certain groups have more power. We should teach them how to address micro-aggressions /bullying behavior.  If they receive such comments as “I bet you’re good with math” or “Where are you from” they can challenge the stereotypes at hand with “Why do you say (or ask) this?” 

ALLYSHIP

In terms of how others can help, Dr. Jeung encourages the following:

  1. Don’t be a bystander, be an upstander.  Those who see something can say / do something.  Go to the assistance of the one being targeted and don’t give the attacker any platform to share their racist perspective.  If you don’t do anything and stay silent, you’re basically complicit.  You can report the incident to Stop AAPI Hate, which is a means to document the extent/types of racist attacks. 
  2. At work, colleagues can reach out to fellow AAPI employees to check on them and show their concern.  Management can organize events (like this Zoom event and others throughout Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month) to give AAPI employees space to speak up and share. It would help if Asian styles and perspectives were acknowledged in the workplace, not to mention an awareness that different races are seen and treated differently due to implicit bias. 
  3. Schools can include Asian American history in their curriculum. Speaking of Asian American history, Grace Meng is working on legislation for NY schools to include Asian American history in its schools’ curriculum.  Illinois has already done this.
  4. You can donate to different groups like Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
  5. You can vote for politicians who promote racial justice.  
  6. Communities can form a diversity group (like my community did last year) to educate residents, advocate for the different ethnic groups that live and work there, and ensure a more inclusive and tolerant environment (race, sexual orientation, disabilities, etc). 
  7. Last but not least, realize that words do matter. Just as “Kung flu” and “Chinese Virus” spoken by the leader of the country normalized hate towards anyone who looks Chinese, leaders of companies can put out messages in support of its AAPI employees to normalize respect towards them and acknowledge their experiences.  Faith-based groups and schools should follow suit.  Parents should teach their children to be empathetic and to treat others the way they would want to be treated. 

Lunar New Year 2021 – Year of the Ox – February 12, 2021

I don’t normally post anything outside of the topic of postpartum depression–because, after all, this is a PPD blog– but I did say in my last 2 posts that I was fighting the blues (and I’ve since beat it, thankfully!). Being cooped up with nowhere to go and during a season I hate the most (short, cold days) has been contributing to my feeling down. The constant feeling of being a misfit has been haunting me as well. I’ve blogged about this before here and here. The past 4 years of disturbing news on attacks on Asians in the U.S. has been a painful reminder of my experience growing up in a predominantly white area, dealing with racism much of my life and especially during my teenage years. Today, I live in a predominantly white area and participating in my town’s initiative to encourage diversity and inclusion within the community. If citizens of each community were to take part in such initiatives, our communities would be even better places to live! Racism comes from stereotypes that come from ignorance that comes from fear. Communication and information have the power to wipe away all of that! But it takes a unified effort from within each and every community. There should be a ZERO tolerance for hate and racism!

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to help a local diversity group to come up with information to share about the Lunar New Year, which this year will land on February 12, 2021 and go for 15 days until February 26, 2021.  I am honored to be part of the Advisory Council for that group, and that they adapted the information below to share with our community.  

Warmly,
Ivy

 


Interesting Facts about Lunar New Year

I created a 1-pager (link below) that contains 8 (8 is a lucky number for the Chinese) key points on the Lunar New Year on one side and a little tutorial on stroke order for the ox character in Chinese plus a fun Word Search activity on the other side. This piece is great for sharing with kids and raise their interest and appreciation at an early age of the East Asian cultures that celebrate Lunar New Year!

The information contained in my blog post below is lengthier and couldn’t be jammed into a 1-page document about Lunar New Year. Some of the information is even new to me, and all of it is just so fascinating that I had to share! Thank you for reading and sharing!

More Fascinating Facts

Chinese Calligraphy
The Chinese character is derived from the pictogram of an ox:

Stroke order for the most part always goes from left to right, top to bottom. Also, generally, when a horizontal and vertical line cross, the horizontal lines are written first.  

NOTE: A great resource for stroke order rules: https://www.writtenchinese.com/chinese-character-stroke-order-rules/

The largest human migration in the world

Did you know that 3 billion trips are made each year (including return trips) to visit relatives by plane, train and automobile to celebrate Chinese New Year?  Referred to as chunyun (春运), it is the travel period up to 15 days before the week-long observance of China’s Spring Festival (or chunjie (春) and up to 40 days. It is up to 40 days in part due to the lack of transportation options available for the millions to make each one-way trek during the same timeframe.  Depending on one’s luck in buying airplane/train/bus tickets, travelers end up traveling within the window 15 days prior to the start of and 15 days after chunjie ends. This year, chunjie starts on February 11 (New Year’s Eve) and ends on February 17. In modern China, most elderly parents still live in the rural villages of their ancestors, while the younger generation works in the cities.  Why do they call it Spring Festival when it takes place during the winter?  The Festival marks the end of the coldest days of winter, with people welcoming the coming spring with planting, which represents new beginnings and fresh starts.

Most & Least Compatible Signs

Most Compatible Signs: Rat, Snake, Rooster
Least Compatible Signs: Tiger, Dragon, Horse, Sheep

A few celebrities who were born during the year of the OX

Barack ObamaPrincess DiMalala YousafzaiSimone Biles
Walt DisneyRobert F KennedyRenoirJohann Sebastian Bach
NapoleonMegan RapinoeMeryl StreepLouis Armstrong
Colin PowellJack NicholsonDustin HoffmanGerald Ford
George ClooneyB.B. KingMichael PhelpsMorgan Freeman
Malcolm XJane FondaPeter JacksonYogi Berra
Boy GeorgeJohnny CarsonBilly JoelEddie Murphy
Bruno MarsMargaret ThatcherBruce SpringsteenGeorge Takei
Anthony HopkinsCharles SchwabRichard BurtonSammy Davis Jr.
Dick Van DykeAlfonso CuaronPaul NewmanSigourney Weaver

More on Chinese New Year red envelopes

Etiquette:

1. Do gift crisp, new bills, as gifting dirty or wrinkled bills is in bad taste.

2. Do receive a red envelope with both hands and express thanks with an appropriate phrase. It is considered impolite to receive a red envelope with one hand and not express thanks with an appropriate phrase.

3. Don’t gift coins.

4.  Don’t give amounts starting with the number 4, like $4, $40 or $400.  The number ‘4’ Chinese sounds like ‘death’ and is therefore considered bad luck. Even numbers are better than odd numbers.  The number ‘8’ is considered good luck, so gifts like $8, $80 or $88 would be best.

5. Don’t open your red envelope in front of the person who just gave it to you.

Taboos and Superstitions

As in practically all other cultures around the world, there are a lot of taboos and superstitions adapted over the course of centuries, all of which have the intent of attracting good fortune into the New Year and protecting against bad fortune.

Do’s:

  • Do talk about good, happy things to set the tone for the new year
  • Do pay back your debts before the new year starts
  • Do wear red because red is the luckiest color

Don’ts:           

  • Don’t cut your hair on during the New Year, as that would cause connections to be severed
  • Don’t wear black or white, as both colors are associated with mourning
  • Don’t wash your hair or do laundry on the 1st or 2nd day of the new year, as that would wash good fortune away
  • Don’t sweep on the 1st or 2nd day of the new year, as that will sweep away accrued wealth / luck
  • Don’t cry or argue, as that will bring bad fortune