On Thursday, the first day of the Lunar New Year, we fêted with the children in simple ways. First, I gave the kids a brief explanation about some New Year’s superstitions that I remember having been told by my parents—make sure that the first person who walks through your door is someone beloved or who will bring good news; don’t sweep all day, or it sweeps out the prosperity and good fortune of the family; don’t get a haircut on this day (again, something to do with cutting and throwing away your good fortune); don’t cry today or you will be heralding the new year with tears and misfortune. Then we went into the city for some yummy foods, and a walk through some shops in Chinatown.
At the end of the day, I made sure that they received their li xi envelopes, which are red envelopes containing a token amount of money, given by elders (not just parents) to children. I remember what pleasure it was to receive that envelope as a child, whether it held a dollar bill or a twenty. I gave the kids each a toonie, which isn’t much, but it’s the symbolism of the money that will give them good fortune this year.
Now, the Boy has just been learning about the value of Canadian currency this week. It must have still been fresh on his mind, and with the mention of money all day, we then had this little exchange:
The Boy: Do parents get money on New Year’s?
Me: No. Only children.
The Boy: How come?
Me: I don’t know. It’s just the way it goes. Adults give to children.
The Boy: Oh. (Toddles off and returns a few seconds later.) Here, Mama. This is for you, for New Year’s. (Hands me three pennies, which presumably, are all that he has in his front-hall drawer.)
Me: Thank you, sweetie. I haven’t got New Year’s money in a long time.
Fifteen minutes later:
The Boy: Can people give stuff to people in other places?
Me: What do you mean?
The Boy: I mean I can send money to [grandfather and grandmother] too. Put it in an envelope and send it to them by mail.
For all the superstitious rituals we do to welcome in the New Year and bring good fortune, the biggest fortune we have is a little kid with three pennies in his hand.