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YORKE: Red envelope tradition should be everywhere

O h how I long for the banging of firecrackers piercing the silence of the dark Shanghai night. I always long for Shanghai at the start of the new lunar year.


h how I long for the banging of firecrackers piercing the silence of the dark Shanghai night. I always long for Shanghai at the start of the new lunar year. There is something beautiful about celebrating Christmas and then just three (or so) short weeks later, having a holiday and celebrating another major festival. Yep, in the cold Chicago winter, I am so ready for another holiday. And a celebration that involves lighting up little fires (in the form of crackers) all over the place, just warms my heart about now (she writes, wiggling her toes in the heated foot warmer under three layers of blankets!) What a fantastic diversion this would be from the pile of papers I have to write and mammoth art project I need to finish for the graduation show.

So, the year of the dragon is said to be an auspicious year and one to celebrate. This calls for an order of Chinese delivery, complete with Americanized Chinese delicacies (that taste nothing like real Chinese food at all) and fortune cookies (a truly American invention, never consumed on the Asian continent but undeniably delicious and prophetic).

I am a snake or so the lunar calendar reveals. My mom and grandma, both long-time school-teachers are convinced that there is something really significant and true about the lunar calendar and personality traits. I am told that the year that you are born under really makes a difference. The teachers in my life say that the dynamics of some year groups are great (you know like a whole pack of beautiful snakes in a classroom) while other years, the dynamics are just not right at all. Truly, I am a bit of a China-phile and I believe that so many aspects of Chinese culture have great merit so, I am down with the lunar calendar and proud to be part of the snake pack. If the lunar calendar explains the unexplainable about people's personalities and ambitions, I accept this.

Something that is a brilliant invention is lycee, you know those little red envelopes filled with money that all the kids (of Chinese descent) get from their relatives at Chinese New Year. Who thought of this anyway? The tradition is genius and one I think we should adopt here in North America very soon (She writes, eyeing the negative account balance on her depleted Bank of America account). Red pockets of money are truly a beautiful thing. Parents of all nationalities, take note. So, the question for the day is this: Why did we adopt the fictitious tradition of the fortune cookie here in the west but not take on the red envelope tradition? As much as I appreciate getting an authentic glimpse into the future (not) after a meal of delightful American- Chinese delicacies, I would be willing to bypass this tradition for one single (thick) red envelope.

I understand why the firecrackers have been banned in North America with the rigorous legal system in place here. Those beautiful little crackers are just a lawsuit waiting to happen, I understand. Losing an eye or being the recipient of a first degree burn is something that should be deleted from the menu but let's get together on the other tradition, one and all. Red envelopesbring them on!

Happy Year of the Dragon - may this be a year of prosperity and great surprises.

Naomi Yorke is a Port Coquitlam student who now lives in Chicago, where she's attending art school, and continues her column.