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  • Koreen Liew-Young

The Year of the Cheeky Monkey

Year of the Monkey illustration by Koreen Liew-Young

Chinese New Year. Think family and a whole lot of food. And it's not just about the lanterns. Lantern Festival is actually not the main part. It's just the part that gets celebrated by the wider Auckland and Christchurch community because of the lanterns that go on display.  (Aucklanders FYI, it's not at Albert Park this year, it's in the Auckland Domain.) The Lanterns actually mark the end of Chinese New Year festivities.

Being a fifth generation Chinese New Zealander, many of us have lost the traditions practiced by our ancestors and the language that was spoken.  I'm trying to desperately self teach those traditions, either asking my elders, or googling the internet on

Some Chinese New Zealanders have identified with the term "banana", yellow on the outside and white on the inside. It was a name that I used to identify with.  However, since university, I've been on a journey to rediscover my "Chineseness". This included a trip to Beijing to study Mandarin for three months with my husband.  Thank you Julian for helping me to enrich my life so much more and for teaching me to want to be much more than a stereotype! We've got a lot to teach my son! I've started trying to use Mandarin with him and I've already seen my "three year old speak" coming back to me. See video below of Mr M learning Chinese from flashcards at five and a half months!

Even though I speak Mandarin like a three year old kid, even though I don't know the culture very well and even though I only lived in China for three months, the love that was shown towards us while we were in China was overwhelming. Watching this video by McCann Guangming China & CCTV (see right), reminded me how complete strangers, opened their homes and lives to us. We found an anchor in China and I long to one day return with my family so that Martin can also find his roots. I'm thankful for the sacrifices made by my ancestors (See Aziz Ansari's video inserted), my grandparents (my grandfather was so poor he slept on a cardboard box in the fruit shop until he was married) and parents,  so that I could have a future.

Anyway, here's to another year, my annual Chinese New Year illustration to add to the portfolio! To celebrate we will be eating our own feasts with family and starting our own traditions, trying to expose Martin to as much as possible.

I will leave you with a page about the most popular greetings for 2016 and the Year of the Monkey. I particularly dig this sentence that China Highlights have quoted.

I wish you in the Monkey year ahead, a somersault of 9,000 kilometers (18,000 li), 72 simultaneous transformations in scholarliness, and 81 kinds of creative skill.

祝你猴年前程, 一个筋斗十万八千里, 兼七十二变混世才学, 具八十一种创业本领。

That's just too epic.

Wishing you health and happiness! 身体健康! Love from the Liew-Youngs.

My son looking at Chinese flash cards
Learning Chinese by flash card

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