Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Year of the Monkey


The Year of the Monkey started last Monday.  The celebration usually lasts 15 days so we have two weeks to mark this significant Chinese festival.

As with last year, Tiger and I found an Chinese New Year-related activity to do in London.  This time, the National Gallery had a short workshop on decorating the Peking Opera mask, so we went along and did that.

Although the workshop emphasised creativity, which Tiger exercised plenty of, his mask doesn't look particularly Chinese in colour or design, so I asked him to read the Origins of Chinese Art and Craft as well as Lianpu in order to look into the significance of the design and colours of the various traditional Peking opera masks to understand that they are not chosen randomly.  We also found the following clip useful to give us a better understanding of this art form:

From the National Gallery, we walked to Chinatown to buy a few special items in preparation for the Chinese New Year as well as to eat a hearty meal.  It is interesting to see that we have chosen exactly the same food as last year.

Once we got home, we started decorating the house by putting up various decorative items around the house, much like what people would do to decorate their homes for Christmas.

Many of the Chinese decorations have symbolic meanings that usually mean well-wishes and the ushering in of good fortune and prosperity for the family.  Unlike a child who grows up in the East who will understand the symbolism behind the various Chinese decorations through sheer exposure to the culture in his environment, Tiger does not have such luxury so he has to find out about the symbolic meaning of the various decorations through reading books.

This year's New Year's Eve dinner was quite special in that I bought the 'Yu Sheng' (鱼生) from Chinatown.

This dish is like a raw salmon salad that is only eaten during the Chinese New Year period, and is a tradition of Chinese living in Southeast Asia.  It is a dish to be eaten with family and friends as a way to welcome prosperity for everyone in the new year:

*Disclosure: some links are affiliate links, which means I earn a commission if you click through and buy something.

This post is linked up to:
  1. Finishing Strong #76
  2. Collage Friday
  3. Multicultural Kid Blogs
  4. Hip Homeschool Hop 2/16/16 - 2/20/16
  5. Weekly Wrap-Up: The one that started with an amazing Valentine gift
  6. Practical Mondays Link Up Week #2


  1. I love that it's the year of the monkey. I am probably revealing my ignorance here, but it feels like the monkey might bring a playful energy! Your decorations and dinner look beautiful. Tiger is so lucky that you are so conscientious about teaching him about his heritage.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Lucinda. I probably won't put in half as much effort in observing the Chinese festivals if we were living in the East. :-) I feel that if I let it slip, then there will be even fewer opportunities for Tiger to understand his heritage.

      I think you're right about the Year of the Monkey being one that brings about a playful energy. I'm no expert in Chinese astrology, but I'm happy to go with your intuition! :-)

  2. It was very interesting stumbling into your blog! Esp the Art Chronicles..I'm going to go through them one by one.

    Would love to see your posts in the Practical Mondays Link Up:) They would be a perfect addition.

    (PS i've heard about book depository.com- is it good?)

  3. Hi Practical Mom,

    Thank you for your invitation, I've linked up! :-)

    My experience with The Book Depository has been very good, with fast and efficient customer service each time. The books are the same price as new ones on Amazon. The best part is that they offer free shipping worldwide!

    1. But where do you live? I'll probably be using book depository because I live in the Spanish speaking world ...far far away !

      Btw pinning your post to the Practical Mondays board :)

    2. I'm in the UK. Book Depository's free worldwide shipping is a big plus. :-)


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