Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Year of the Dragon!

Happy Chinese New Year!  

In our house, we're happy that it's the Year of the Dragon.  According to the Chinese zodiac, hubby is a dragon.  So it's kind of like a mid-year birthday celebration for him.  Fortunately, hubby does not have a dragon-like personality in real life!

Image from
We mark Chinese New Year in an odd, kind of funny way.  We might order Chinese food for dinner.  That's about it.  But hubby also likes this holiday for another reason.

Here's our new tradition.  A few years ago hubby just couldn't get it together in time to send Christmas cards to all his friends who live around the world.  So instead, he took his time, and wrote our family letter and mailed them in beautiful Chinese New Year cards.  He orders them direct from China, and they are little works of art.  People loved them! 

USPS 2012 Lunar New Year stamp.
 Friends now tell us that they (like all of us) are overwhelmed with holiday activities, but when the Chinese New Year card arrives a month after the the hubbub of year-end holidays has subsided, they really enjoy it.  The cards even spurred a visit from an old girlfriend and her family.  (It's OK, they were boyfriend-girlfriend when they were about 14!)    

The ever-politically-correct US Post Office even issues stamps specifically for the Chinese New Year.  Lovely colorful artwork of a dragon's head, another in silhouette in the upper left corner.
He Hua Chinese Buddhist Temple.
My photos, March 2011.
Last year we were in Amsterdam around the time of Chinese New Year.  We were quite surprised to walk down a busy city street and see this ornate Chinese Buddist temple.  Known as He Hua, which means lotus flower, it was built in 2000.  

Inside is a large space, sparingly filled with shrines, several oversized statues of the gods, musical instruments, and other traditional cultural items.  Unfortunately, photos were prohibited when we were there.  That was my first time in a temple, it was silent and serene. 


Goodbye Year of the Cat,
Hello Year of the Rabbit!
But only a few doors down from the temple on this bustling street was a women's clothing shop, with this Chinese cat, known as a Maneki Nako, in the window.  The mannequin behind the cat makes for an unusual sight, and unfortunately the building across the street is reflected in the photo as well, but I think you get the idea. 

Quite a clever adaptation to the traditional, to welcome in 2011's Year of the Rabbit!

However you celebrate The Year of the Dragon and Chinese New Year, enjoy!

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