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Posts Tagged ‘Chinese Culture’


Last week was Chinese New Year and the start of the year of the Dragon! In Chinese culture, many Chinese women in China are superstitious in feeling that because the year of the dragon is the “luckiest” year in the lunar calendar, they need to scramble to have a “dragon baby” this Chinese Zodiac year.  I have been reading that there has been a surge in the number of mainland China women going to Hong Kong to give birth in order to avoid China’s one-child policy, which is now prompting authorities to cap the number of births permitted in the former British colony.

Parents across China right now are aspiring to produce “Dragon Babies” in the hope that the symbol, long associated with emperors, power and intelligence will bring wealth and luck. Doctors have warned some women may even turn to illegal means to dodge the cap. Newspapers have reported cases of mainland women illegally crossing the border and skirting the rules by going straight to emergency rooms in public hospitals to deliver their babies. As a special administrative region within China, Hong Kong largely runs its own affairs under the “one country, two systems formula.” Hong Kong also has its own currency and legal system — the “one child” rule does not apply. Who knew that the year of the Dragon could cause a baby boom! I thought you might find this topic interesting – what are your thoughts on the topic? Next year is the year of the snake in the lunar calendar and it is speculated there will be a drop in baby births in China.

CHECK OUT LE TOP CHILDREN’S CLOTHING AT
www.letop-usa.com

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My father is Chinese and has always been a fan of acupuncture and its eastern methods of relieving certain ailments or pain and focusing on your “qi” (pronounced chee). So I am not sure how I missed this article before Thanksgiving, but after reviewing 60 years of research, the American Academy of Pediatrics has given acupuncture the green light, reporting that the practice is “generally safe for children when performed by appropriately trained practitioners.” Would you consider it, if your child were ill and not responding to conventional medical treatment? A surprising number of parents have. Large studies in the past have generally focused on acupuncture in adults…is this how adults used to rave about yoga 15 years ago and now there are toddler yoga classes? Will child acupuncture be all the rave in 10 years? Maybe…

The report looked for evidence of side effects from 37 studies of needle acupuncture on children from birth to age 17. The researchers found 279 adverse events from acupuncture, 253 of which were mild, 1 that was moderate, and 25 considered serious. In the findings, 1,422 children were successfully treated with few exceptions of mild adverse effects dominating the reports.

The take-home message is that it is absolutely safe in both the adult and pediatric world, but you have to go to somebody who is trained. Acupuncture is sometimes used to treat headaches, migraines, back and joint pains, cramps, and chemotherapy-induced nausea. Estimates show 150,000 U.S. children undergo acupuncture each year.

Acupuncture is a treatment that is said to have originated in China thousands of years ago. In Eastern medicine, acupuncture is believed to open the channels where a person’s Qi (pronounced chee), or life force, is blocked. In Western medicine, it’s more commonly believed that acupuncture works by stimulating the release of the body’s natural painkillers, according to the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The main concern I have is how do you know if you have an acupuncturist who is properly trained, or even has the experience to work with children? What would you do?

CHECK OUT LE TOP CHILDREN’S CLOTHING AT
www.letop-usa.com

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Kung Hei Fat Choy! This means “Happy New Year!” in Chinese. Chinese New Year started yesterday February 3rd, but it goes on for 15 days, so I thought I would provide a little Chinese New Year 101! I am half Chinese and half Irish, but I grew up in a home that was centered around the Chinese culture. I thought I would share a mini Chinese New Year 101 with you and some of the traditions that make me who I am today.

Chinese New Year is the most important of the Chinese holidays, and is a time of feasting with the family, celebration, fireworks, and gift giving. It is a 15-day holiday, beginning on the first day of a new moon and ending with the full moon on the day of the Lantern Festival.

The Chinese calendar is based on the lunar year, so the date of Chinese New Year changes every year. The Chinese calendar follows a 12-year pattern with each year named after an animal. There are various stories that explain this. The simplest is that Buddha (or the Jade Emperor) invited all of the animals to join him for a New Year celebration, but only 12 animals turned up. To reward the animals that did come, Buddha named a year after each of them in the order that they arrived, starting with the Rat, followed by the Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat (or Sheep), Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

Why Firecrackers?
It used to be traditional to set off firecrackers at Chinese New Year, to see off the old year and welcome in the new. Ancient Chinese legends tell of the Nian, a man-eating beast from the mountains, which came out every winter to feast on humans. To scare the Nian away, the people used loud noises such as firecrackers and fireworks, and bright colors, particularly red. These customs led to the first New Year celebrations.

Lucky Money – also pronounced, “li-see”?
At Chinese New Year parents, family and friends give money to children in red envelopes. The red color symbolizes good luck, and the amount of money can be anything from a small coin to a larger amount. Lucky money envelopes are also known as Red Packets or Red Envelopes.

Cleaning the Home and Painting Your Home?
In the run up to Chinese New Year, homes are spring-cleaned thoroughly so that all the bad luck of the previous year is swept away (and on the first day of the new year, brooms and dustpans are put away and never used in case the good luck of the new year is swept away!) Often houses are freshly painted. Traditional Chinese homes sometimes get a new coat of red paint, as red is a particularly lucky color.

What are Chinese Couplets?
Also used to decorate homes are Chinese couplets. These are two tall posters, usually consisting of 4 Chinese characters each (as eight is a lucky number), which are hung on either side of the front door. The couplets express traditional good wishes for the year ahead.

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Paul and I are presently in Hong Kong – diligently working on the development of the upcoming Spring 2011 le•top, le•top baby and rabbitmoon collections.  We love Hong Kong (Paul’s birthplace) – it is a truly exciting city – the pace is fast and everyone seems to always have a purpose.  This is a fabulous place to absorb energy and excitement!  However, there are times that we miss our ‘other’ home in California – a place that is quiet and peaceful.  Yesterday we discovered that we could experience serenity – surprisingly enough right in the middle of Hong Kong!

Paul’s brother Anthony invited us and other family members to visit the Nan Lian Garden – a place we did not even know existed.  This is a classic Chinese style garden, in the style of the Tang dynasty, that was built over a period of more than 5 years.  The garden covers an area that is over 8 ½ acres – with meandering paths that take you on a journey that results in calm and tranquility.  Beautiful rocks – some so huge we wondered at how they could have possibly been transported – and grown trees were transported in from areas deep in China.  The garden was designed with attention to the minutest details – the buildings in the garden were all constructed using ancient building techniques – everything is put together without the use of nails, just as they did centuries ago.  There are ponds with large koi fish, waterfalls and beautiful plants. 


This garden is part of the Nan Lian Buddhist Nunnery – and held in trust for the enjoyment of the public.  There are no entrance fees – but a strict set of rules that everyone follows – no touching of the garden elements, no shouting or running and in general that visitors show respect.  The moment we entered the garden we felt a sense of peace descend – truly magical!

There is a special restaurant in the garden, maintained by the nuns, that serves vegetarian cuisine of the highest quality, appearance and taste.  We were treated to a very special dinner by Anthony – every one of the ten courses of the meal was entirely vegetarian – following Buddhist traditions that revere all living things.  I could not believe how delicious and varied the dishes could be!  We had a truly special experience – one that I will never forget.

If you are ever in Hong Kong take the time to visit this very extraordinary place, literally a stones throw from streets thronging with people and shopping areas filled with modern amenities.

Nan Lian Garden
60 Fung Tak Road
Diamond Hill – Kowloon – Hong Kong
www.nanliangarden.org
(click the English button on the bottom right)

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If someone had told me five months ago that I would be racing dragon boats in China, I would have said they were crazy! It’s hard to imagine that only a short time ago I didn’t have a clue about this incredible sport.  Dragon boat racing started thousands of years ago in China. It’s a team paddling sport where a canoe-style boat is used.  Now, not only can I hold my own paddling the boat, but I can proudly say that I was a member of the only American team to compete in the 2009 Dragon Boat races in China!

Dragon Boating Competitors

Dragon Boating Competitors

The interest in this exciting sport is catching – at least in our design department! Surprisingly, I wasn’t the only le•top designer racing in China. Gail – our extraordinary graphic designer – was the person who first introduced me to the sport. Thanks to her, I am not only part of the team, but I’ve become part of a fun and adventurous “family”.

We competed in races in a couple of different cities, one of which was Milu, the birthplace of dragon boating. It was amazing to be able to participate in the sport that originated there over 2000 years ago! The fun part is, as in any sport that each team has a name – we call ourselves the Absolute Dragons!  We are a mixed crew, meaning that we are made up of women and men. In China there is no such thing as a “mixed” team, which meant we had to race against all men’s teams. Even though we didn’t place in the standings, we did manage to beat nine teams! Wow, were they mad when they got beat by a boat full of women!

Beautiful Sights

Beautiful Sights

China was such an unbelievable experience. One thing I will always remember is how popular my platinum blonde hair was with the locals. I was chased down at every corner by people asking for my picture! I now know what it must feel like to be famous. Man, do I feel bad for Brad Pitt!

Whether it was holding up peace signs for pictures with the locals, racing in the dragon boat, hiking the Great Wall, or just celebrating the Chinese culture – China was the trip of a lifetime, one I will never forget!

…this post was written by Sarah, le•top designer

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