Chinese New Year Celebrations & Common Taboos

Chinese New Year is steeped in tradition and superstition. When I was growing up, my grandmother and mother would emphasize superstitions like Do not sweep the floor on the first day of Chinese New Year to avoid “sweeping” away your wealth and Eating the New Year cake to signify the family sticking together. (Personally, I don’t know if the last one worked as we are all living in different continents)

Common Dos and Don’ts


Chinese New Year 2017 – Chinese Zodiac

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival 春节 falls on Saturday January 28th this year. It is one of the biggest festivals in the Chinese Culture and is celebrated by 1/6 of the world’s population.

When I was a child, I loved Chinese New Year. The food, new clothes and red packets filled with money. Did I mention the food? I remember in our family, the only time of the year we were allowed to drink soda was during Chinese New Year. Grape soda was my favorite.

The celebration lasts for 15 days and can vary slightly in different countries. Traditionally, the celebrations are based on different myths and traditions. It is a time to honor deities, ancestors and get together with families.

With Chinese New Year less than 3 weeks away, I thought it might be fun to take a look at the origins of the Chinese Zodiac and how we celebrate Chinese New Year. In part one of this three-part blog, I will talk about the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac. Next week, in part 2, I will talk about the symbolism of the celebrations & food. In part 3, I will cover what we do in the 15 days of celebrations.

Chinese Animal Sign


Winter Solstice – Dong Zhi

Winter solstice is on December 21st and for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year.

The term solstice comes from the Latin word solstitium, meaning ‘the Sun stands still’. On this day, the sun reaches its southern-most position as seen from the Earth and it seems to stand still before it turns around.

Winter Solstice – Dong Zhi

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, winter is the time to conserve our energy so we can prepare to have a healthy spring and summer. In my blog last week, I talked about the importance of nourishing your kidney Qi in the winter, click here to learn more.

Winter solstice is the day where yin energy is at its peak. On this day, there is the least amount of sunlight and most amount of darkness. The good news is after the 21st, we gradually get more daylight. (more…)

I Found My (Medical) Tribe!


Tribe? What tribe?

We were talking with a patient last week and she said “Ok, it’s taken me a few years to find my medical tribe so please make sure you guys don’t go anywhere. In addition, please, the four of you don’t take vacation at the same time either.”

She was joking of course, but don’t tell her the four of us are going to Maui together next year. 🙂

What is a Tribe?

One of the most innate aspects of our being is the need to feel connected. We want people around us who we can feel “at home” with.

I never felt that with my family (blog for another day). I even thought I was adopted, but it turns out I look a LOT like my grandmother.

Personally, my tribe is a group of people with whom I am unconditionally loved and accepted. I can be myself, say my truth and not be judged.

It is important for all of us to find our tribe as most of us live in a city where we do not have family around. Your tribe is your support team when you need someone to talk to. They “see you” and “get you.”