It was my birthday today! Feb. 01
21 years ago (1998)…
It was the fifth day of the year 1998 according to the lunar calendar when I was born. The fifth day of a new year is also believed to be the birthday of the God of Fortune and people usually celebrate that day with a banquet… So by saying that, I was as well welcomed to this world by all kinds of firecrackers and fireworks.
In China, we have a traditional event on baby’s first-year birthday, called “zhua zhou” or known as Drawing Lots. It is held on the first birthday celebration to predict the kid’s future, career and interests. Adults will put usually 6 items of different kinds in a circle in front of the infant. The items include things like pens, books, a Chinese abacus, ball etc. So each item represents different meanings, such as pen is related to a writing career, abacus is believed to have interests in finance or math. The first thing the baby picks up then predicting the kid’s future. I did not remember at all (Of course I could not) what I had picked up, but my family remembered vaguely it probably was a book- and indeed my final career goal is to become a prestigious (hopefully) researcher or a scholar.
I celebrate my birthday with my family, or my family celebrates my birthday according to the lunar calendar- every fifth day of the new year. Because it is always during the Chinese New Year break, it is hard to invite my friends to come over or hang out with on that day as they would normally stay with their family (or I actually did not even try to invite because I would love to spend time with my family during the Chinese New Year holiday LOL). So I celebrate my birthday with friends according to the Gregorian calendar on Feb.1st. So basically I have two parties with different groups of people to celebrate my birthday each year.
In China, we can miss a birthday cake but can never forget having noodles- (which are called long life noodles) because they are long in a sense and represent longevity. The very traditional way of making those noodles is putting them in red soup (mainly soy sauce which makes the soup looks dark red). In my family, I feel like we prefer (or I prefer) chicken soup more. See below 👇
Dish wise, my family always prepares a lot of dishes just like the dinner for Chinese New Year eve. Normally we have chicken, pork, fish, shrimp, eggs with bamboo shoots, spinach, bok-choy, bean sprout…
The two years I had my birthday at Denison. My first year I was in a dorm with like 20ish people, so it is more like a small community, so I made some food in the shared kitchen and invited “dorm-mates” and some other friends. The second year I also made food but went to party afterwards… It was quite fun.
I was actually really excited about my 21 birthday, even though I could not have the same feelings of FIRST LEGAL shot or drink others might have if they turn 21 in the States (we do not have minimum drinking legal age in China so anyway 🤷♂️).
Continuing the two-year tradition when I was at Denison, I decided to make Chinese dishes again this year.
A few days prior, I explored the Asian markets area behind the Copenhagen central station and got some buckwheat noodles for the birthday dinner. On Thursday, Charlotte got me what I needed from the supermarket. Friday after class, I went back to the Asian market and bought some bok-choy on my way back home.
· Flank steak soup with potato and tomato (土豆番茄牛腩)
– didn’t find flank, substituted with entrecote.
· Cauliflower with pork belly (干锅花菜)
· Bok-choy with bok-choy (青菜炒青菜)
· buckwheat noodle (荞麦面)
The couple– My brother Frederick (the younger son of my host family) and his girlfriend Cirkeline came to my birthday dinner!
At the table, they sang the Danish version Birthday song to me 😍and Charlotte made me lagkage (layer cake) which was awesome 😋. It also had 21 Danish flags on it 🇩🇰🇩🇰🇩🇰. All of these and the presents made me so special.
Later, we played a board game called PARTNERS which is similar to classic ludo but more complex than it is. In this game, we use cards instead of dice and to win the game, it is more about strategy and cooperation with your partner.
I really enjoyed my 21st birthday this year. It was only the third week I live with my host but I feel like I have stayed here for longer. I truly love all the family members here. Charlotte og Jacob are super great to me, Kasper, Frederick, og Cirkeline are just like my big brothers and sister (especially when I am the only child and the oldest in my greater family and do not have any biological big brothers, sisters or cousins). Tusind tak!
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