Growing up, I held mixed emotions for cultural events and holidays, like the Lunar New Year, because while I enjoyed the festivities and celebrations, these cultural events weren’t mainstream and celebrating them both highlighted and reinforced our family’s minority status in my eyes.
I am ashamed to admit that later, in my teenage angst, I was often quick to dismiss my parents traditions and rituals as out-dated superstitions. I performed them loyally despite my tsk-tsk smart-mouth out of respect and love for my parents, but I never truly felt pride or a sense of legacy or claimed them for myself.
Now that I have a child of my own, I suddenly have a strong desire to share and to show her how everyone is different and to impart our family’s perspective. When I tried to share, however, I quickly learned that I had only assumed I was cultured because I grew up a minority but in reality, not only did I know little about other cultures, I knew little of my heritage outside of what my parents told me or what was portrayed on tv or in books.
As February 8th, the date of the lunar new year this year, loomed after the “real” new year passed, I found myself Googling various Lunar New Year traditions and on amped up late-night Amazon shopping sprees, trying to fill my cart with cultural items for the celebration.
I didn’t end up purchasing much other than some ink and red rice paper for calligraphy but I picked up several books on the Lunar New Year and some Chinese, Japanese and Korean culture books to share with my daughter.
It was fun reading books featuring different Asian cultures and I regretted not doing this sooner. I must look into other cultures in additional to the ones we got since she showed interest. Of all the books we got, she loved Linda Sue Park’s Bee-bim Bop the most!
Bee-bim Bop is a fun rhyming story about a young girl helping her mom prepare dinner (Bee-bim Bop) for the family. Bee-bim Bop, or more commonly Bibimbap (비빔밥), is translated literally as “mixed rice”. It is a delicious traditional Korean dish that was historically eaten on Lunar New Year’s Eve. There is a recipe for it at the back of the book.
She asked me to read it repeatedly the first day and by the second day she was reciting it on her own.
A week or so later she wasn’t asking for it anymore so I lent the book to her little cousins, one who is also 3 years old and one who is almost 2, thinking they might enjoy it as much as she did. True to Murphy’s law, she asked for it again that exact night.
She cried and while I don’t condone the behavior, we reached a compromise since I did lend it out without telling her. I found a video of it on YouTube and let her watch it instead:
I don’t know how they animated the illustrations but it’s so cute!! I loved it but my daughter preferred reading the book so I quickly re-ordered it on Amazon (affiliated link).
I’m so glad I got the replacement ASAP because the cheerful rhymes are now a staple in her daily speech and she will make up her own verses randomly. For example, when she needed to go potty: “Hurry Mama, hurry. Gotta pee pee pee. Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go. Mommy carry ME!!”