Year of the Caballo

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In our family a sense of longing always sets in during January. December is holiday central for us, with all three of the Younger Fives having their birthdays, as well as Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Needless to say, there is a bit of holiday withdraw when January 2nd comes around. Maybe it is for this reason that we search out holidays from around the world to celebrate, and Chinese New Year has become one of our favorites.

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We always start getting ready with some homeschool activities and decorating. The kids really enjoyed exploring the Topmarks Chinese New Year site, which has everything from customs and traditions to an e-book explaining how the order of the Chinese zodiac came to be.There is even a Dragon Game that gave them practice with putting numbers in order (decimals and negatives included). From there we pulled out the red paper and practiced our calligraphy with the character which is traditionally printed on a red diamond and hung upside-down from a door or doorway.

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As the New Year approached, chores that can sometimes be a struggle (Aww, Mom and Dad say we have to) suddenly became fun (Yay, it’s part of the Chinese New Year tradition). Five Spice pulled out the hair cutting kit to give everyone a trim, and then we brainstormed a list of chores to clear away the bad luck of the previous year. Everyone pitched in, and soon our casita looked as spotless as the day we arrived (but of course nothing lasts forever, or for more than a few hours in this case).

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The night before Chinese New Year the kids were eager to leave an offering to the Kitchen God, and they decided that animal cookies would fit the bill. Then when the big day arrived, we all headed to the kitchen for our New Year feast. Being here in Mexico, it was easy to include lots of lucky fresh fruits, such as oranges (traditional) and mangoes (not so much). Five Ball and High Five snapped the green beans for a stir fry, Five of Hearts arranged the fruit plate, and Five Spice worked her magic in the kitchen preparing Long Life Noodles, Pineapple Strawberry Pancakes, and other delights.

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When we finally sat down to enjoy a wonderful meal at the beautifully decorated table, we all were ready to welcome the Year of the Horse (Año del Caballo) with full plates and warm wishes for the New Year. It surely was not the most authentic of Chinese New Year celebrations, but it what it lacked in authenticity it made up in sincerity.

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