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Three New Years

This time of year, we are especially reminded of the abundant cultural blessings in our lives.

Lunar New Year symbols with a twist: oranges for good luck and happiness, red envelopes ready to give as gifts of prosperity, and Shalom, our wish for peace in the coming year.
Tam-Bargeron: We mark the beginning of the Year of the Tiger.

Our family is Jewish and Chinese: one of us was born in New York City to Chinese immigrant parents, and the other to a European American couple in Michigan. From the moment we met and became a couple, our family culture and traditions have been fully Jewish, fully Chinese, and fully American.

This time of year, we are especially reminded of the abundant cultural blessings in our lives. We mark three major New Year celebrations every year. In the autumn, we pray and rejoice to greet Rosh Hashanah, the head of the year, and then in mid-winter we celebrate the Lunar New Year, including rituals to remember and honor our ancestors.

Lunar New Year messages on door
New Year’s messages on traditional red paper greet our visitors.

And of course, there is the new year on January 1st in between. We usually try to stay awake to see the ball drop in Times Square on TV, but we rarely make it to midnight anymore.

These holidays have very different cultural and religious contexts, but they are equally authentic for us. And our family is not at all unusual. There are many families like us, including Jews of diverse backgrounds beyond Ashkenazi, Sephardi, or Mizrachi.

Dinner table ready for Lunar New Year
Ready for a Lunar New Year meal.

For the second year in a row, COVID has prevented us from being with our extended family to celebrate the Lunar New Year. So, this week we hastily planned a small (COVID-aware) gathering with friends that included traditional foods, and lots of love and laughter. and it’s as natural to us as saying the kiddush on Shabbat, or Shanah Tovah on Rosh Hashanah.

Salmon in shape of Challah
Eating fish is a symbol of abundance for the New Year. Howard braided salmon in the form of a challah.

Gung Hay Fat Choy — we wish you great happiness and prosperity in the year ahead. And who doesn’t want that?