Chinese New Year is a tradition celebrated annually at the end of winter and the
beginning of spring, between 21 January and 20 February. The spring festival is celebrated by 50
ethnic groups throughout the world. For many, it is their Christmas, and when they honor their
family and ancestors.
Many myths abound about the origin of the tradition. Popular among the beliefs is the
folk tale about Buddha's invitation to the animals for his banquet. The Chinese Zodiac is based
on each of their appearance. Others claim the mystical monster Nian for its origin. At the
beginning of the lunar new year, the beast would terrorize a small village. He was scared away
by a stranger, an elderly man dressed in red, who scared the beast away with burning, crackling
bamboo and doors decorated with red paper. The spring festival is also called "Guo Nian."
Which means surviving the Nian's attack.
"Celebrating Chinese New Year" is a fictitious tale incorporated with information about
the tradition. It revolves around Sherie visiting her friend Mah Ling and her family in Hong
Kong joined them during their festivities.
"Unbound" is a tale weaving together Chinese history, fiction, and excerpts from my parent's lives. The reader
travels from Canton, China, to Kauai, the northernmost island in the Hawaiian archipelago.
My parents are first-generation Chinese. My mother, Dorothy Chock Chang, is a Renaissance woman. Excerpts
from my Mother's exemplary accomplishments are emulated in Peony's life during her life as a mother and wife.
As a child, I was fascinated by my paternal grandmother, Ah Po's bound feet. When she walked down the
steps, she did so crab-like. I also learned not to ever disturb her while she is dressing! My sisters, 10 years older
than me, ordered me to tell her that breakfast is ready. I knocked, opened the door, and saw her hair unbound.
Not acceptable! She always had it bound tight. She yelled in Cantonese, which I didn't understand, and threw her
hairbrush at me! Ai yah! I never went near her bedroom door in the mornings after that trauma! How was I to
know that traditional Chinese culture forbade one from seeing a woman dress?
With the establishment of the National Revolution in 1911, foot binding was outlawed in 1912. It finally ended
with the People's Republic and factories gradually ceasing production in 1949. Chinese women were free! Their
feet were unbound!
"The Emperor's Concubine" Concubines were chosen for their beauty, lily feet, and long nails, symbolizing
wealth. Class and social background did not matter. It applied only to choosing a consort. The selection was based
on their health, training, and ability to please the Emperor and serve his mother. Chosen ones as concubines were
confined in the royal inner court. Eunuchs served them. Some bore children; others prevented pregnancy by
swallowing lead and mercury. Dangerous as doing so resulted in kidney failure, brain damage, and death.
Concubines have been buried alive to serve their Emperor in his afterlife.
A favored concubine is fortunate to become an Emperor's consort when his barren Empress passes. Should she
bear him a son as heir, he will be the next Emperor of China.