How I Learned My Grandmother’s Perspective on the New Year Celebration


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My family fussed for a whole week: they actively cleaned and decorated the house,cooked a lot of dishes, and never stop for a moment to have rest. Long story short, they wereapparently preparing for some event, and I, then five or six-year-old child, could not understandwhat kind of event was about to happen. My parents worked hard and did not find time forholidays for the whole year. Therefore, such a change in their routine bothered me and caused a lot of questions. It seemed to me that something grand must happen, however, everyone was too busy to satisfy my curiosity and explain the nature of their activity. When I realized that no one was going to let me know about their business, I decided tofind out everything on my own.

First thing, I decided to talk to one of my cousins to find outwhat was going on. When my sister visited us, I did my best to find out everything that interestedme. I needed to find out what was about to happen and why my parents were so excited about it. As soon as she heard my question, she burst out laughing and said that I am too little tounderstand the importance of the event and that I will probably sleep the entire thing away. Tosay that I was disappointed with her answer would be an understatement. I almost gave up in despair, when suddenly I remembered my grandmother, who wasvery fond of telling stories. As Christine Welsh claims in her article, elders can reveal moreabout native traditions orally than any written historical source (Welsh 17).

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On the same dayafter lunch, I asked my grandmother for a visit, and my parents gladly sent me to her. When Iwas at my grandmother’s house, I noticed that she has also decorated it. The fact convinced me that she would definitely be able to reveal the mystery. We sat on the couch in front of the TV, and I finally asked the question that tormentedme for so long. I was afraid that my grandmother would laugh at me as my cousin did, butinstead, she just smiled, and after sitting quietly for a moment, she started telling her story. Whathe told me was not another fascinating story but a history that reflected the very essence of ourculture.

According to Christine Welsh, it is elders who are the most reliable and engagingsources of the native heritage (Welsh 18). I was fascinated by how vividly she described thetradition of New Year celebration that was peculiar to my country and has been practiced forthousands of years already. She narrated not about some historical fact and cultural customs, but about a family tradition that united all the families of China. She explained that she taught her children to garnish a house and trees with garlands because her own grandmother taught her so.

Then, she revealed how much she enjoyed to help her mother to cook traditional dishes and spend all the celebration in the narrow family circle. She kept narrating, and I could not help butremember her every word. That year I celebrated the New Year with my family as I was too excited to miss it. It was a uniques experience of immersing into the oral history or, as Welsh calls it, a “living history” (Welsh 18). I believe that I will carry the cultural experience that I learned that day from my grandmother’s story through my whole life to render it to the next generation while preserving the charm of the oral narration.

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