It’s the year of the Dragon! We celebrated Chinese Lunar New Year last week by hosting a party for my son’s class — Spring Happiness poems, oranges, and even a Dragon Parade. The kids loved it and it gave us the opportunity to talk about different countries, cultures and traditions. In previous years Chinese New Year has fallen in February and I welcomed the opportunity to focus on a holiday other than Valentines Day. Don’t get me wrong, I love Valentines Day. But for some kids it’s a little more fun and interesting to talk about dragons, lions, sweeping out the old year and learning to eat with chopsticks. Washington, D.C. is hosting its annual Chinese New Year parade today and it’s a cultural highlight for kids! Lion dances, acrobats, costumes, fireworks…what’s not to love? When we first started celebrating Chinese New Year there were very few children’s books about the holiday. Today there’s a wider selection so check them out if you get the chance and start the conversation. I want to make sure my kids grow up with Chinese New Year as one of our celebrated holidays…and if it edges out Valentines Day…well, I’d welcome that too.
Well you’d think we lived in the rainforest given the amount of rain we’ve had in DC this past week. There’s definitely not a shortage of puddles for kids to splash in. Unfortunately, we have some great cultural festivals coming up this weekend that could be rained out if it doesn’t clear up fast! The famous Adam’s Morgan Day Festival is on Sunday, September 11th. Straddling Adam’s Morgan and Columbia Heights the festival showcases cultural music, dance and food from Central and South America. (Columbia Heights Day was rained out this year due to Hurricane Irene) The street fair has been a mainstay on the DC festival circuit since 1978 and if the rain lets up at all, I highly recommend it. The festival tagline is “A Global Community of Cultures. Celebrate together, not separately!” See the Bolivian dancers, sample Latin American cuisine and look at art from around the world. Sounds like exactly what our kids need after a rainy week. The festival runs from noon – 7 pm (18th Street & Columbia Road) so get out and explore!
DC Shorts film festival takes place September 8-18th– with films from 23 countries! The festival has won accolades as one of the leading festivals in the country. So find something kid-friendly and introduce your family to something other than Disney. And for those of you who like not only a great film but a fun party, the DC Shorts Film Festival is throwing a Brazilian Carnival Saturday night at 9 pm. A tribute to Brazil’s pop movement from the 1960′s , the all-female drum group Batala, and Brazilian jazz will all be featured! Sounds like something you don’t want to miss.
September is a month of international fun and festivals in D.C. This weekend we have a few to look forward to – the 36th annual international festival in Alexandria. Hispanic music, Korean dance, Chinese cuisine and lots of international activites & food.
This weekend grab your kilt, your drum and even your bagpipes if you’ve got ‘em. The Virginia Scottish Games and Festival will be held on Sept. 3-4th in The Plains, Virginia. Kids can participate in the games in categories such as brick throwing, bale tossing and the “caber” toss (a hollow cardboard tube). There are Celtic fiddle competitions, track & field events and dueling sword players! Sounds like a great weekend for everyone. Here’s a picture from last year’s event in the children’s brick throwing competition. What a way to introduce your clan to a little Scottish heritage!
On Sunday I’ll be taking my family to the Cambodian Day Festival in Alexandria, Virginia. It’s our first time going to the festival so we’re excited about sampling Cambodian food, watching the dances and listening to music. As you’ll see on my blog I absolutely love cultural festivals and find them to be a fun way to experience the sights, sounds and smells of a foreign country. Of course not every outing is a success with my boys. They are usually interested in the food and if there’s a sticky, sweet, sugary dessert they’ll go for it. I can watch the dancing and music for hours – I’m transfixed by the costumes but unfortunately my kids are up for watching for about 15 minutes. Most festivals offer a children’s area but I find they’re often tents with storytime, coloring areas and simple crafts. These activity areas are great, but since most festivals are held in the summer months the tents are usually saunas and we tend to spend little time there. Depending on the disposition of your child they’re an interactive way to experience the culture. I’ll post again and let you know what worked for us and of course I’ll share any great recipes or books that we discover!
If you’re in the DC metro area and want more information about the festival go to www.cambodiancommunityday.org.
One of my favorite weekend adventures is checking out the continuous feed of cultural festivals in our nations capital. You’re transported to another country or region for a brief afternoon – some would say a mini vacation. Costumes, music, food,dance – everything envelopes you for a few hours –and without getting on a plane, fighting the airport crowds or packing every last sippy cup or beloved toy– you are somewhere else. What a fun way to open the eyes and ears of kids (& grown-ups) …and you can even be home by nap time!