A Few Charms (Banner)

A Few Charms (Banner)

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Chinese New Year hong bao that symbolizes good marriages and prosperity

My twins Taylor and Mitchell, Christmas Eve 2009
Greetings on Chinese New Year, from my family to yours. Gung Hay Fat Choy! Which means, "Wishing you a prosperous New Year."

I want to share with you the story behind this charm that I added to my bracelet on New Year's Day of 2013 in celebration of the fact that we are free of debt! Yup, you read it correctly NO MORE DEBT!!

In January of 2013 we wrote the last cheque to pay off our debts - and we had accumulated ALOT of debt! We weren't bankrupt but we were damn close!

My husband and I had worked very hard, together, over 5 years, to pay off ALL of our debts. I had purchased this charm from a friend because I knew that this "unforgettable moment" was coming up at the end of December, 2012. And I thought that this accomplishment warranted a Pandora charm - of course! Financial problems were a huge issue in my mother's marriage, and hence in my childhood and beyond. So I am very happy - no proud - to put this on my love and marriage bracelet to signify that, unlike my father, "we are financially responsible." Best part? We did it together!

This charm, called the "hong bao" is like the Pandora "money bags" charm but it has the Chinese character for "blessings and good fortune" or "abundance." The term "hong bao," meaning "red packet," refers to the Chinese tradition of adults giving children little red paper envelopes filled with money. According to the China Folklore Society, the original meaning of the envelope ritual is a New Year's blessing passed from the old to the young, and the "lucky money" inside a hong bao can ward off evil spirits and maintain children in peace and safety for a whole year. It seems appropriate to have this charm on my red "Always and Forever" bracelet because the red colour of the hong bao envelopes symbolizes good luck, and the giving of money signifies a fresh start in the New Year.

With our debts paid off we are making a "fresh start," celebrating our ability to "maintain our children in peace and safety," and welcoming good fortune and abundance.

My twins, Mitchell and Taylor hanging their stockings when they were five
(and just a little excited about Santa coming)
My twins, who are now thirteen and in grade 8, went to an urban Elementary school that is very multicultural. Rather than have a Christmas concert this school had a "Holiday Sing-a-long" and they learned songs from different countries and different religions. Imagine if you will, my two twins, who celebrate all things Christmas, running around our house in December singing not just Christmas songs like Rudolph and Frosty, but songs about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Ramadan, including the Chinese New Year song "Gung Hay Fat Choy" (lyrics below).

So when I say Gung Hay Fat Choy, I am sending New Year's blessings to all my friends and family, and also sending (as the children's song explains), "wishes of happiness... longevity... good marriages... and prosperity."

My red Always and Forever bracelet

Gung Hay Fat Choy

Gung Hay Fat Choy, Gung Hay Fat Choy
Gung Hay Fat Choy, it's Chinese New Year

Come a little closer and sit right here

I'd like to tell you all about Chinese New Year
Begins each year when the moon is new
Please listen closely I have a lot to tell you

First the whole house we need to clean
Put up decorations so they can be seen
Buy some presents and buy some new clothes
Paint the door red so that everybody knows

Gung Hay Fat Choy, Gung Hay Fat Choy
Gung Hay Fat Choy, it's Chinese New Year
On New Year's Eve we are with our family
We talk and play games or we might watch TV
Through the whole night we keep the lights on
The fireworks at midnight fill the sky with song

At morning our parents we politely greet
They give us each money in red paper wrapped neat
We visit with our neighbours, we visit with our friends
Any grudges that we had will now come to an end

With wishes of happiness (happiness)
longevity (longevity)
good marriages (good marriages)
and prosperity (prosperity)

For fifteen days everyone celebrates
We hang up lanterns in the windows on the gates
We eat yummy dumplings made of flour and rice
They are boiled in water and they taste very nice

So that is the end of our Chinese New Year
Thank you all for listening and sitting right here
Wishing you prosperity and happiness to all
Please stay and enjoy our lantern festival

Lanterns aglow, everywhere you go
Lanterns aglow, everywhere you go
Lanterns aglow, everywhere you go

This is the end of our Chinese New Year
Gung Hay Fat Choy

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