The year of the monkey

February 11, 2016 |  Category:   holidays life nyc







The Year of the Monkey 2016 was the first year that NYC public schools had off for the Lunar New Year. When the Mayor made this announcement before the school year began, I admit I grimaced at the thought of having to find childcare for yet another school holiday, particularly since Winter Break would begin just one week later. But you know what? I juggled my schedule so I could take part of the day off and the kids and I had the best day celebrating the new year in Chinatown. Our first stop was the firecracker ceremony. I’ve never been to it before, but I had a strong pull to go this year, probably because it’s a traditional ceremony to ward off evil spirits – and now I know how! More than 500,000 firecrackers are set off in a thick white cloud of smoke for 15 minutes and it was loud as hell. Rather impressive, though I swear I suffered from some minor smoke inhalation from standing too long in the haze, but it felt right because I figured I could use a good ‘ole scaring off of evil spirits this year.

After slurping down some delicious soup dumplings, we spent the afternoon chasing confetti in the streets. If you’ve never been in the middle of a confetti storm, I urge you to shred some colorful paper and throw it over your head with glee. Why is this so much fun? I have no idea (although maybe not having to clean up after ourselves has something to do with it). Seeing all the bits of color and sparkle raining down on you, especially on a gray cold day, lifts the spirits and makes you think that this year will be ok.

And it will. For the first time in a long time, I’m free. I haven’t been able to breathe easy in a while, but I just closed a chapter in my life. I can breathe.

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  • Lauren February 11, 2016 at 7:59 am

    Yay! I didn’t come from a family that celebrated the New Year (regular or otherwise), but now as an adult, there’s something about it that really does feel like pressing a restart button when I do a big celebration on NYE. I love the feeling of shedding whatever has been weighing me down. Wishing you and your family great things in the New Year!

  • Melissa@Julia's Bookbag February 11, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    HAPPY New Year Miss Jenna! I love the Lunar New Year much more so than Dec 31 New Yrs Eve. 🙂 Wishing you joy and all the best, sweet lady. xoxoxo

  • Lena Corwin February 12, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    my favorite day of the year in NYC!

  • Joo February 16, 2016 at 10:16 am

    I love that you were able to get out and have fun with the kiddos!

  • Liz February 16, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    Your writing is, as all your posts are, evocative and I can imagine being in Chinatown. But the last paragraph made me smile and breath. This stranger, thousands of miles away, is pleased to hear you feel free and that you can breath. Long may it last…

  • Ronnie February 16, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    Happy Chinese New year, Jenna! Amazing photos and love your description of the firecrackers going crazy. You’ve also half-inspired me to find some confetti just so I can throw it over myself. 🙂
    Ronnie xo

  • Annie February 19, 2016 at 12:02 am


  • Tim McMurdo February 28, 2016 at 10:30 am

    Gorgeous celebration and bright colors aside. Congratulations on your new found freedom. I our adult lives, feeling free is a rarity that should be celebrated.