This post has been written by Hannah Saunders
I like to think of myself as a person who embraces diversity and the multicultural world within which we live. I’m a real sucker for talking to people and delving into their culture, exploring their traditions, values and beliefs.
Recently, I found myself in a position where I have been able to learn more about China as a country and develop relationships with the younger Chinese generation. It has been a fascinating insight for me to learn about their day-to-day way of life which is so often intertwined with tradition – and plenty of celebration!
This weekend (Saturday, 25th January 2020) marks the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival). This celebration is said to cause the largest human migration in the world with over 3 billion trips made over the festive period. Little red envelopes of good fortune will be given to children from the elders and celebratory meals of dumplings will be eaten. In and amongst the vast numbers of people travelling to be with loved ones and the mountains of dumplings that will be consumed, another tradition will be observed in the days leading up to New Year: the sweeping of the grounds.
The ritual to sweep and clean every floor in the house to symbolise ‘out with the old, make room for the new’ struck a chord with me. So often with the western New Year tradition of resolution making, we seem to be wanting to make radical changes when we turn over a new leaf. Perhaps what we really need to be doing is acknowledging and accepting of what we have now –good and bad – and find ways to nudge the more negative bits to one side to make a little more room for new, exciting and positive things in our lives.
For me, 2020 symbolises a new approach. On a personal level, the last few years have been a massive strain; a multitude of stress inducing, upsetting experiences and situations have come into my life and I have had to find a way to cope. There has been anger, there has been fear and there has been a huge amount of upset. I have tried desperately to batten down the hatches in an act of self-preservation and an attempt to be strong – and funnily enough, I’m not sure it’s really worked. Those ‘unchangeable’ events just keep happening. I’ve come to the realisation that I need to do something different.
And this is where the Chinese tradition to ‘make room for the new’ comes into play. I recognise that the stressful and upsetting aspects of my life are going to be there whatever I do, but they are also blocking my ability to make room for others and to fill my life with more positive things. I’ve started to wonder if I could make room for myself, those around me, and even find time for strangers. Would it help me to brush the old to one side a little bit and bring in some of the new?
So that’s what I’m doing. I’m going to sweep things just a little bit to one side. I acknowledge the fact ‘they’ are still very much there. But I’m making room. Room for me in my day; room for the loved ones around me; and room for those I don’t know yet (and room for some dumplings too).
Don’t forget to have a look at our Chinese New Year resources for your class!