Today is Chinese New Year and the year of the snake.
I have to confess that my awareness of Chinese New Year was pretty low until the children studied it at school. That New Year phrase “Kung Hei Fat Choi” (wishing you prosperity?) was what they brought back from school, along with banners & lanterns and a genuine interest in the animals of their birth year.
However, the reason the phrase “Kung Hei Fat Choi” has stuck with our family so much is because 3 years ago we holidayed in France…
We were staying outside Paris and had taken the 1 hour train ride in to do a day of sighting seeing. Finding ourselves hot & hungry outside Notre Dame cathedral, we grabbed some snacks and stood in the shade of some trees opposite.
Now our youngest was just 5 but he’s always been a friendly soul and he started to strike up conversation with an elderly Chinese lady standing next to us. She didn’t speak English or French but after a while, undaunted, he pulled on that multicultural learning and used his only bit of ‘chinese’… Kung Hei Fat Choi! Now he’d expected some positive reaction but she was entirely baffled and clearly didn’t comprehend. We all tried various ways to emphasise or repeat his phrase but to no avail…
Then our little 5 year old had his brain wave. He pulled once again on that multicultural learning and said to his elderly chinese lady “Star Wars?“. Immediately she beamed a huge smile and repeated back “Star Wars!” and then continued to talk animatedly in her native language!! Similarly, having found common understanding, he talked back animatedly about his love of all things Star Wars until, both smiling, they stopped, shared their mutual acknowledgement & appreciation with their eyes, and returned to eating their snacks and watching the tourists.
It had been a memorable meeting and hopefully you can see why Chinese New Year has a special place in our hearts & memories. As Master Yoda might say “Truly wonderful the mind of a child is“!