Down to earth, hardworking, motivated, and an all around super-mom to the sweetest little kid, Tracy Kong is the owner and creative mind behind Tiny Bao House. When I first approached Tracy about working together, I was immediately drawn to her sense of humor, passion for crafting, and love for her family… all which I gathered just from our email conversations. I admire her for creating a business that allows children to explore other cultures outside of their own and provides representation through pretend play. I feel honored to be the first shop to carry an exclusive selection of beautifully handmade felt dim sum, which you can shop on our site now!
With the Lunar New Year quickly approaching on February 1st, I asked Tracy if she could share some thoughts and experiences that were special to her and her family growing up. She kindly accepted the assignment 🙃 Thank you for sharing, Tracy!
“Lunar New Year is hands down the best holiday. To me. It is Christmas, thanksgiving and a side of Valentine’s Day all combined into a full 16-day festival season filled with fun-filled memories with family, feasts and traditions.
As a child born and raised in Toronto, ON. My parents loved sharing the traditions and exposing my sister and I to all the fun activities they also experienced when young. We had a fusion experience with a blend of traditional and “new age” lucky celebrations. As a child this holiday was much more straight forward and we would just love spending time with our family, wearing specific outfits with the most intricate embroidery and visiting our ancestors’ graves. Our parents always made this holiday special and found ways to surprise us with endless activities over the years. Year after year, there were more activities that stayed and became our traditions.
My mom who is the driving force for my love of handicrafts, would introduce different paper crafts and letterings to write into “fai chun” these are written in black script onto red paper and placed around the house. We would also cut the character representing spring from the red paper and hang them around the house.
My mom would tell us about how the characters evolved over time from pictographs to the scripts we know now. Without the internet, my mom would spend days researching and reading books from the library to validate and ensure that she would pass the most accurate information about her traditions to her children born outside of Asia. Her dedication and love for both the heritage and her family is something I always think of and try to resonate with my own daughter.
She would tell us the story of “Nian” which means year. He was known as a mischievous and terrible monster who would terrorize and destroy the villagers fields and homes. They learned that he was afraid of the colour red and hated loud noises. The villagers started to set off firecrackers to scare off Nian and would hammer away at loud instruments to rid him from their lands. This is said to be the start of the traditional means to scare away the evil and welcome the new year's arrival.
We would start the weeks leading up to the festival by cleaning and prepping the house to welcome the new year. Simply put. This is done to avoid the taboo acts of “washing away of the luck” or sweeping out the good fortune that the year would bring naturally.
The night before features a family reunion dinner filled members of several generations enjoying a lovely feast and time together.
On the day of we would pay respect to our ancestors and then visit our grandparents to spread the luck and happiness. Sharing in good fortune and specific new year greetings.
We would receive lucky red envelopes of money usually given to children or unmarried individuals along with (retired) seniors. And the belief is to keep the money unopened for the best of luck. And of course try to find a lion dance or new year celebration to experience such pure joy and excitement that only such festivities could welcome.
Everything is meant to boost an individual’s luck and prosperity for the year. From eating appropriately named foods like fresh fish which sounds like ‘surplus or abundance’ in Chinese. Others also love rice cakes during this time as it sounds like “getting a promotion” or “increased income” in Chinese. The dishes change and our family traditions evolve over the years but the rationale remains the same.
Although my script writing hasn’t improved much and my daughter is too young to be writing with permanent ink…I can’t wait to involve my daughter in the Lunar New Year festivities. My mom and dad have a list of activities they can’t wait to share with their grandchildren. It’s a shared digital file that gets edited quite often and they can’t wait to witness her experience first hand the joys of heritage and tradition for the years to come.”