Celebrating Lunar New Year As A First Generation Chinese American

Celebrating Lunar New Year As A First Generation Chinese American

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It was the day before New Year's Eve. I could tell that the windows had been rubbed clean with stale newspapers and a little too much Windex. The distinct fake citrus of hardwood floor polish lingered, even though it had been hours since the Swiffer had been out. Soon after, that biting scent of chemicals was easily overpowered by a sweet, fresh aroma. The fragrant citrus of pomelo leaves boiling on the stove seemed to swell and envelop our entire two-story house, warding away any malevolent spirits.

And then it was New Year's Eve. Fingers hastily tugged hard plastic clothing tags off of a soft new shirt. I ran my hands through my hair, still surprised when fingers reached an abrupt end at my shoulders. Freshly cut strands brushed the back of my neck. Waiting at my grandmother's door, my hands started to sting. Heated palms and prickling fingers fought to hold the handles of the red plastic bags I carried, full of hospitality -- oranges and biscuits. Walking in through the door, I was met with warm embrace after embrace. With each hug, my relieved hands gratefully accepted the crisp touch of red envelopes, good luck being passed on from older generations.

I snacked on dried, chewy coconut strips and bit into a homemade fried sweet dumpling, filled with peanuts and sugar. During dinner, my taste buds are met with our traditional dishes: vegetables and mushrooms soaked in oyster sauce, pork with fat choy, takeout fried rice noodles (classic), crispy egg rolls, fresh fish topped with green onions and soy sauce, all complete with warm white rice. There is a choice of a savory radish cake or a slimy sweet brown rice cake at the end.

After dinner, my cousins and I walk the streets of Chinatown to the beat of a deep drum, listening for the bang of firecrackers and incessant clanging of cymbals. The loud sound of snappers filled the air, of kids throwing tiny poppers "bang snaps" at the streets, screaming with laughter when one was aimed too close. Older relatives chanted in a sing-song voice, "Mai lan, mai lan, mai lan," putting the laziness of their grandchildren up for sale for the new year, "Mai doh lin, sam sup man."

The night was filled with vibrant red and flashes of gold. There were red good luck scrolls, red envelopes, red firecracker confetti littered the streets. Lion dancers jingled and shimmered, greeting the businesses and wishing people good fortune and health. I looked around me. Grandparents held the hands of their grandchildren, parents laughed at their children goofing off, everywhere I looked was family. This is my American Chinese New Year.

Cover Image Credit: Uwishunu

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14 Fraternity Guy Gifts Ideas, Since He Already Has Enough Beer

Frat boys are a species of their own and here are some exciting gifts they will be ecstatic to receive!

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What more do frat boys love than alcohol, partying, and just acting stupid? Here are some gifts that help fulfill all of those needs for the frat boy in your life!

1. Beer holster belt

Whats better than one beer? Six beers! This fashionable camouflage accessory can be used for tailgates, beach days, formals and everything in between.

Price: $8.49

2. Phone juul holder 

You know those cardholders everyone sticks on the back of their phones? Well, now a Juul holder for your phone is on the market! This will save your favorite frat boy from ever again losing his Juul!

Price: $10.98

3. Animal house poster 

This Animal House poster is a classic staple for any frat boy. This poster will compliment any frat house decor or lack thereof.

Price: $1.95

4. The American Fraternity book

Does the frat boy in your life need a good read for Thanksgiving or winter break? Look no farther, this will certainly keep his attention and give him a history lesson on American fraternity heritage and tradition.

Price: $28.46

5. Beer pong socks 

These snazzy socks featuring beer pong will be loved by any frat boy. As for the way to any frat boy's heart may, in fact, be beer pong.

Price: $12.00

6. Condom case

This condom carrying case will not only protect condoms from damage but also make frat boys more inclined to practice safe sex, which is a win-win situation!

Price: $9.99

7. Frat house candle

Ahhh yes, who does not like the smell of stale beer in a dark, musty frat house basement? Frat boys can make their apartment or bedroom back home smell like their favorite place with the help of this candle.

Price: $16.99

8. "Frat" sticker

Frat boys always need to make sure everyone around them knows just how "fratty" they are. This versatile stick can go on a laptop, car, water bottle, or practically anywhere their little hearts desire.

Price: $6.50

9. Natty Light t-shirt 

Even I will admit that this shirt is pretty cool. The frat boy in your life will wear this shirt at every possible moment, it is just that cool!

Price: $38.76-$41.11

10. Natty light fanny pack 

This fanny pack can absolutely be rocked by any frat boy. The built-in koozie adds a nice touch.

Price: $21.85

11. Bud Light Neon Beer Sign 

A neon beer sign will be the perfect addition to any frat boys bedroom.

Price: $79.99

12. Beer Opener

Although most frat boys' go to beers come in cans, this bottle opener will be useful for those special occasions when they buy nicer bottled beers.

Price: $7.99

13. Frat House Dr. Sign

Price: $13.99

Forget stealing random street signs, with this gift frat boys no longer have to do so.

14. Beer Lights 

Lights are an essential for any party and these will surely light up even the lamest parties.

Price: $17.19

Please note that prices are accurate and items in stock as of the time of publication. As an Amazon Associate, Odyssey may earn a portion of qualifying sales.

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How Cooking Mama Taught Me All About Cooking

Who says video games aren't useful in the real world?

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This year Friendsgiving was hosted in my apartment, which meant several people were preparing different parts of the meal in my kitchen. To my surprise, one of my friends admitted she had no idea how to cut an onion and asked me to do it for her. I was shocked. I thought it was common knowledge all because of one video game, Cooking Mama. For those of you who aren't familiar, Cooking Mama was a game for the Nintendo DS back in the early 2000s where you were tasked with making meals and ultimately be judged by your "Mama." I'm not ashamed to admit that a large part of my kitchen knowledge comes from my "Mama," and I think it truly makes a difference in the kitchen.

Cut Onions Properly

At least these onions never made me cry.

Alexandra Michalski

If you cut an onion in half and then follow the above method you can get diced onions in seconds!

Presentation is Important 

Oh God... Burn it!

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The most important thing about cooking is how the final product tastes. Less important is how good it looks, but let's be real no one likes eating food that looks like sludge.

You Really Should Wash That Rice

Make sure you get as much starch off as you can.

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I used to think skipping this step was optional. It's not. If you want perfect, fluffy, delicious white rice you need to rinse the excess starch off of it first!

Not Everyone Belongs on Chopped

Retweet if your cutting board looks like this too.

Alexandra Michalski

Kudos to the professional chefs that can make every piece of diced potato the exact same size and shape. For the rest of us, it's okay to come out with nonuniform pieces, it'll still taste great!

You Don't Need Fancy Tools To Succeed

Sometimes a fork is all you need.

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While some people swear by expensive gadgets, you don't always need them! Cooking Mama shows us that sometimes all you need is a fork to take your dumpling game to the next level!

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