Three Lunar New Year Traditions that I Like

Many people around the world celebrate Lunar New Year, which creates many different traditions and beliefs about the holiday. This list just shows three out of the many beliefs and traditions that people have surrounding the holiday.

Red Envelopes

Your Guide to Chinese New Year 2019 — Red Envelopes, Great Events and The  Year of the Pig

During Lunar New Year, the giving of Red envelopes seems to be a constant. Usually these envelopes are filled with money. In Singapore, people give out red with the phrase “Fú” on it, which means good luck. Based on my personal experience, some of the red envelopes will have the zodiac animal of the new year on it.

Eating Traditional Foods

How to Throw a Hot Pot Party: Jing Gao of Fly By Jing Gives Us Some Tips -  Thrillist

Eating certain foods to celebrate holidays is something that is very common in almost every country, and Lunar New Year is no exception. In Taiwan, people will eat pineapple cakes because pineapple in their dialect loosely translates to the phrase “good fourtune is coming”. In Mongolia, people eat hotpot. The ingredients in hotpot have different meanings, for example, round fishballs are added into the soup because they symbolize good fourtune.

Visiting Family

Chinese New Year Activities for Kids -

Almost everybody who celebrates Lunar New Year spends it with their family. Most of the time, people practice these tradtions with their families. Based on what I’ve experienced, people will visit their family for almost the entire day. They will usually go to a temple together. To add, all of the married people in the family give red envelopes to the unmarried people. Around nighttime, everyone will eat traditional foods together for dinner.

Sources:

Chinese New Year Activities for Kids by Kristina Klausen

How Lunar New Year Is Celebrated Around Asia by Anna Kim

How To Throw The Perfect Hot Pot Party by Kat Thompson

13 Lunar New Year Traditions From Around the World by Michelle Tchea

Your Guide to Chinese New Year 2019 by Billy Fong

-Nicole M.

The Origins of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a widely celebrated holiday in the U.S. taking place every year on the fourth Thursday of November. In fact, 62% of Americans celebrate Thanksgiving at home with their loved ones each year. But are we celebrating something that we don’t really know the full meaning behind? Thanksgiving is a time that most Americans can agree is spent being thankful, which is true. But the story of Thanksgiving involves much more than being thankful for all that we are given.

The story of Thanksgiving first begins in 1620, when a group of 102 religious separatists left their home in search of religious freedom. The pilgrims finally settled in Massachusetts Bay after 66 days on a ship named the Mayflower. From there, the pilgrims began to cultivate and establish the town of Plymouth. The first winter in America was brutal, and many pilgrims suffered from diseases such as scurvy. By March however, they were greeted by an English- speaking tribe of Indians known as the Abenakis. A member of one the native tribes, Squanto, taught the pilgrims how to use and respect the land. In November of 1621, the pilgrims had their first successful harvest and called for a celebration that included their native allies.

This celebration- now referred to as “Thanksgiving”- lasted for three days. Much of the menu of the first Thanksgiving is unknown, but historians rationalize that many of the sweet treats we enjoy at the table today- 400 years after the first Thanksgiving- were most likely not present in November of 1621. Most of the sugar necessary in making these sweets would have been in short supply after months on the Mayflower. Much of the meal, however, was made using native spices that local tribes had used for years before.

So the next time you are sitting around the dinner table with your loved ones enjoying turkey and stuffing, remember the first Thanksgiving, one of harvest and harmony.

-Roma L.

The History of Thanksgiving

Turkey, breaded stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, mashed potatoes, and apple cider? Sound familiar? You got it.

The meal of Thanksgiving is a hearty one, shared with friends and family. You know the star of the meal, the turkey, but have you ever wondered how the first ever Thanksgiving was celebrated? It was nothing like the one we have today, that’s for sure.

You’ve probably heard of the Pilgrims, traveling across treacherous oceans on the famous Mayflower to reach Plymouth, escaping from religious persecution. It all started in 1621, when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of Thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

First off, turkey wasn’t the bird of choice for the first Thanksgiving meal. It is suspected by researchers that duck, geese, swans, or a now extinct bird named passenger pigeons would be the main wild bird of choice. It is possible that the birds were stuffed, though probably not with bread. The Pilgrims instead stuffed birds with chunks of onion and herbs.

In addition to wild birds and deer, the colonists and Wampanoag probably ate eels and shellfish, such as lobster, clams and mussels. They had a well-balanced diet, with chestnuts, walnuts, and beechnuts. They also grew beans, pumpkins, and squashes. All this, naturally, begs a follow-up question. So how did the Thanksgiving menu evolve into what it is today?

Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of the popular women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book, was a leading voice in establishing Thanksgiving as an annual event. She is also famous as the author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Beginning in 1827, Hale petitioned 13 presidents to make it a national holiday. Finally, she pitched her idea to President Lincoln as a way to unite the country in the midst of the Civil War. In 1863, he made Thanksgiving a national holiday, a day to give thanks.

Throughout her campaign, Hale printed Thanksgiving recipes and menus in Godey’s Lady’s Book. She also published close to a dozen cookbooks. Hale is readying women to accept the idea of Thanksgiving, and instructing them what to cook. And the Thanksgiving food that we think of today — including roast turkey, creamed onions, mashed turnips, even some of the mashed potato dishes? You can find them in her cookbook.

-Katharine L.

Christmas Only Comes Before Thanksgiving in the Dictionary

Blinking lights, ringing bells, the “Ho, Ho, Ho” of a jolly old man in a red suit. These are little reminders that the holidays are finally here. Christmas is a magical time that gives you a warm feeling every time you think about it. I understand the excitement and joy of Christmas, but should we ignore Thanksgiving all together?

Thanksgiving is a joyous holiday when you get together with your family and say what you are thankful for. Nowadays, many are already in the frenzy of Christmas even before the turkey has been served. Years ago, stores and shops were closed on Thanksgiving, allowing families to enjoy their time together. However, in 2017 so many stores are now open, even on this special holiday.

While families do still sit down at the dinner table to eat turkey and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, most do not fully enjoy and understand the meaning of it. It is a time when relatives make it a point to fly home from out yonder just to sit down for one meal. It’s a time when families can be grateful for the plentiful food on their table. It’s a time when you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the time you spend with your family. There is a whole month after Thanksgiving to put up decorations and get ready for Christmas, so put your ornaments away and give thanks to those around you.

-Brooke H.

Book vs. Movie: A Christmas Story by Jean Shepard

christmas_storyIt’s that time of the year again! People are decorating their houses for the all the great winter holidays.  School will be in Winter break and everyone is buying presents. All the Christmas specials are being played on tv. One of them including the amazingly hilarious classic Christmas movie A Christmas Story. One of my absolute favorite holiday movies. If you haven’t seen this movie you are missing out! Go find it on Netflix or go rent somewhere or go buy it! You definitely need to see this movie.  But if your not a movie person you can always read the book that it was adapted from. It is also called A Christmas Story and it is by Jean Shepard. I have read and seen it both. I love the story. But  I do prefer the movie over the book

So many classic scenes have come from that film. If you have seen it or not you may recognize the infamous Leg-Lamp that was featured in the book and movie.

A Christmas Story is about a young boy named Ralphie Parker and his mission to get a Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range- model air rifle. It doesn’t even matter who gives it to him he just really needs one.  Ralphie tries everything to hint to his parents that it is necessary to get him the air rifle. He even goes to the grumpy Santa at the mall to ask for the air rifle. But for some reason everyone keeps telling him he’ll shoot his eye out. Along the way so many classic moments happen. Like his dad winning the beautiful leg-lamp! Or when his friend Flick got his tongue stuck to a frozen pole! And so many more ridiculous things.

The book and movie were almost identical. Except one is on paper and the other is on film.

This is a classic movie that everyone should enjoy! Happy Holidays!

-Erika T., 8th grade

Book Review: The Christmas Shoes, by Donna VanLierre

christmas_shoesThe book The Christmas Shoes is a wonderful novel. Though there is much to tell about this book there’s only so much that I can say without ruining the story completely. So I will start with this: have you ever had a time in your life where you felt like your was out of control? You just seem to be lost in your thoughts and feel stuck as you slowly, one-by-one, lose all of those you had ever loved. Well, I’m sure that Nathan and Robert can tell you a lot about that.

In a small little town there lives a little boy, and his name is Nathan. Now Nathan is just an average little boy about the age of 8 but always seemed to be quite sad. He had his reasons, and one of them was that his mother is very ill. Now I’ll tell you that his mother, Maggie Andrews, was always very active so it was a huge shock to mostly everyone that she was ill. You see, Maggie just gave birth to Nathan’s little sister, Rachel. Though there was something different about this birth and she knew it. It was a good thing that she got suspicious because she soon finds out that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Robert Layton is a very successful lawyer who is just about rude to everyone. Although, his problem is quite different. He and his family had just moved into town a couple years ago and in that time he was promoted to a very high position. Now his problem is that he spends too much time working. He always breaks his promises and makes the excuse that he is too busy working. He hardly spends any time with his family and blocks off his wife from him. Now he is facing the danger of divorce with his wife Kate.

You will read that the Christmas of 1985 changes both families. Find out how a little boy gives hope to his mother and how a man saves his marriage all from  pair of little silver shoes. It is such a sweet story, though I’m warning you: this is a crying book and, trust me, you will feel the tears welling up. I hope you will enjoy reading The Christmas Shoes!

-Christina B., 7th grade

Book Review: Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

let_it_snow_coverAs the holidays come to an end, I search for every way I can possibly find to prolong the season. I decided to read this book due to its dependable authors and captivating book jacket. Let It Snow is a three-story compendium of interconnected Christmas narratives written by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle.

The first story is “The Jubilee Express” which is my personal favorite, and follows a girl named Jubilee as she is spontaneously ordered onto a train on Christmas Eve, which unfortunately crashes into a snow drift. Her decision to get off the train and take refuge in the Waffle House nearby kicks off the elaborate series of unexpected events that prevail throughout the rest of the book. Jubilee is relatably awkward and unadulteratedly hilarious. She narrates the story in a unique, strange, and universally enjoyable style.

The second narrative is called “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle” and is written by the modern king of young adult fiction, John Green. It tells story of Tobin and his friends as they journey through a blizzard to the proverbial Waffle House in pursuit of cheerleaders and hash browns.

The third story, “The Patron Saint of Pigs,” is the tale of an aforementioned girl named Addie, who aims to become less self-absorbed and sets off on a quest to a local pet store to pick up a previously paid for, teacup piglet for her friend, just as she promised she would. In this last part of Let It Snow, Lauren Myracle presents readers with a flawless, wrap-up conclusion to the novel in which all characters are united in one satisfying and intriguing resolution.

There are not very many authors that could possibly amalgamate a Waffle House, a Starbucks, a Tinfoil Guy, a notorious cheerleading cult containing an abundance of Madisons and Ambers, James Bond, a female Duke, tangential Swedishness, Twister, ceramic Santa villages, a girl infamous for her hash brown addiction, a celebratory Smorgasbord, and a dedicated Target employee to form one seemingly sane, unified whole, but that is exactly what these three authors came together and succeeded in doing.

Let It Snow consists of humor, relatable teenage drama, reflection of life, captivating stories of love and of friendship, and the substantial difficulties and benefits of human relationships. One reoccurring issue that is addressed throughout this book is the contemporary corruption of the social paradigm. The entire wholesome social hierarchy is solely based off the disregard of common equality (e.g. the drama geeks are cooler than the band nerds but buried under the social appreciation for jocks and cheerleaders). I found this both true and amazingly appropriate for the designated audience.

If you liked The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, or any of Maureen Johnson’s books or Lauren Myracle’s novels, you’ll love Let It Snow.

“…a taste so profound and complex that it can’t even be compared to other tastes, only to emotions. Cheesy waffles, I was thinking, tastes like love without the fear of love’s dissolution…”
― John Green, Let It Snow

“Christmas is never over, unless you want it to be… Christmas is a state of mind.”
― Lauren Myracle, Let It Snow

“We study there a lot because… what other choice does society give us, right? It’s Starbucks or death, sometimes.”
― Maureen Johnson, Let It Snow

-Danielle K., 8th grade