As the two week celebrations draw to a close, I'd like to still wish you all 新年快樂！Happy Lunar New Year and Year of the Dog!
The first time I spent Lunar New Year in Asia was three years ago, and I was staying with a friend's family in a rural part of Southwestern China. It was fun to see that there were so many traditions and rituals as part of the new year celebrations (I basically lost track of the all traditions and customs you're supposed to abide by) and so much delicious food! I never really got over the sudden shocking sound of firecrackers... that would go off anywhere, at any time for about three weeks.
My family sometimes celebrated Lunar New Year in the US, but most years we didn't do much. I didn't grow up feeling too connected to the traditions that surrounded this holiday, but after spending time in China, I saw the extent of what a massive part of the culture it is. I experienced being part of the largest annual migration in the world - when the people in China return back to their hometowns to spend New Year with their families. For several weeks, the cities are empty and the small towns come to life with family celebrations.
Growing up, I didn't understand the role of these traditions - but as I got older I realized how much they connect us to each other. Participating in rituals and customs are ways of connecting to the roots of who we are and our histories.