Category Archives: Holidays and Celebrations

Recommended books and activities for holidays and celebrations throughout the year.

Mapo Tofu: A Lo Family Recipe

Today is Chinese New Year! Traditionally, the night before Chinese New Year, Chinese families will gather around and eat dinner together, much like this plate from the LEE & LOW title, Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic:

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Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic author and illustrator Ginnie and Beth Lo were kind enough to share one of their favorite soybean recipes with us: Mapo Tofu! While not a traditional Chinese New Year dish, the Lo sisters say that “mapo tofu is a Lo family favorite that we eat on the holidays, Christmas, and Chinese New Year.”

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Jai recipe for Chinese New Year

On Thanksgiving, everyone looks forward to the turkey. Valentine’s Day is the time for chocolate. During Chinese New Year, one of the most popular dish is one called jai, or Buddha’s Delight.

jai

Jai is a vegetarian dish and is eaten on the first day of Chinese New Year to bring good luck. According to Buddhist tradition, no animal or fish should be killed on the first day of the lunar new year, thus, a dish with lots of vegetables is considered purifying.

While most of the ingredients are probably not available at your local grocery store, they can be found at Asian grocery stores in many parts of the country.

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What is Chinese New Year?

This Sunday is Chinese New Year and that means firecrackers, food, and family! You can greet someone by saying Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) or Gung hay fat choy (Cantonese), which means “wishing you prosperity in the coming year.”

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From Sam and the Lucky Money

Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar (the moon’s orbit around the Earth), therefore the actual day varies year to year. Many families will prepare for the new year by cleaning the house, shopping for new clothes, buying food to prepare new year meals, and stocking up on red envelopes to put lucky money in. Once the new year arrives, celebratory events continue for the next 15 days, including parades, feasting, red lanterns, and red paper cutouts and calligraphy.

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Black History Month Book Giveaway 2013

It’s Black History Month, and that means it’s time for our annual giveaway from Lee & Low Books! We’re giving away three sets of three books featuring African Americans, and the contest will run through February 28, 2013.

To enter, follow in the footsteps of Dave the Potter, the subject of our new biography Etched in Clay: The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Poet. Dave was an enslaved potter in South Carolina who inscribed his works with sayings and short poems in spite of harsh anti-literacy laws for slaves:

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Our favorite Thanksgiving food traditions

Thanksgiving is the best holiday, ’cause it’s all about food. I mean, it’s also about being thankful, and about our country’s complicated history, but: turkey! stuffing! PUMPKIN PIE!

Seaside Dream

Here are some favorite food-related traditions and recipes from the Lee & Low staff:

Keilin, Marketing/Publicity Intern:

One food-related Thanksgiving tradition that my family does is something AFTER the actual meal. My family takes all the turkey meat to save for sandwiches, but we also save the turkey bones! We use them to make a Chinese rice porridge called “jook.” Usually, jook is made with chicken and pork bones, but for the next week or so, my family gets to enjoy turkey jook! It has a different (albeit subtle) taste, and it’s something I look forward to every year!Seaside Dream

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What is Diwali?

Today is Diwali, a holiday otherwise known as the ‘Festival of Lights.’ In addition, it marks the beginning of the Hindu new year. Though primarily celebrated by Hindus throughout the world, Jainist and Sikh communities also observe this day. Diwali falls in October or November, depending on the Hindu lunar calendar and is a national holiday in countries with large Hindu populations, including India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji. The United States gave the holiday official status in 2007.

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rangoli or decorative design for Diwali

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Why is Veterans Day important?

image from Heroes by Ken Mochizuki and Dom Lee
image from Heroes

This Sunday is Veterans Day, a national holiday to honor veterans, servicemen and servicewomen who fought or are currently fighting in armed services. Originally named ‘Armistice Day’ on its creation in 1919 by President Wilson, the day was dedicated to “the heroism of those who died in the country’s service” and celebrated the WWI victory which allowed America to bestow peace  and justice to other nations. In the aftermath of World War II, which caused the largest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the history of the nation up until that point, and America’s participation in the Korean War, Congress amended the day to be called ‘Veterans Day’ on  June 1, 1954. Veterans Day would fall annually on November 11th and be a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

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