Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

If you are anywhere near AJ Panda’s hometown of St. Louis, MO, you are going to want to make plans to attend the Lantern Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden!

The annual Lantern Festival is one of China’s most ancient and cherished traditions. “Lantern Festival: Art by Day, Magic by Night” will be an international exhibition of immense, lighted works of art from China. This festival will include extravagant outdoor sets that celebrate Chinese culture through bold colors, impressive light and fascinating designs. This is an opportunity to witness an extravaganza rarely available outside of Asia.

“Lantern Festival: Art by Day, Magic by Night” will run at the Missouri Botanical Garden from May 26 through August 19th. For more information, please visit their website at http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/.

Lantern Festival - MO Botanical Garden

Lantern Festival – MO Botanical Garden

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Not all Chinese dragons are created equal. Actually, there are nine Chinese dragons, not just one. Chinese scholars of ancient times identified a total of nine types of Chinese dragons based on their specialized tasks.  So while you’re doing your last minute shopping for Chinese New Year gifts, you may want to think about the different dragons.

  1. The Heaven Dragon protects the homes of the gods in heaven. This is the ruler of the all the dragons.
  2. The Spirit Dragon has five toes and is known as the imperial dragon. This dragon controls the weather. If you upset him, the weather may get nasty.
  3. The Earth Dragon spreads beautiful spring weather in the heavens and fall in the sea. He also controls rivers. When a river floods, we’ve upset the Earth dragon.
  4. The Underworld Dragon controls gemstones and precious metals. When this dragon reports to the heavens, he creates volcanoes. So next time one erupts, you know he’s reporting to the gods.
  5. The Horned Dragon is the strongest despite being deaf. His head points to the North. His tail points to the South. He also can make it rain.
  6. The Winged Dragon is the only Chinese dragon to have wings. He was the servant of the yellow emperor.
  7. The Coiling Dragon is the water dragon. He lives in deep oceans, lakes, and rivers. 2012 is the year of the Coiling Dragon.
  8. The Yellow Dragon represents the Chinese emperor. He is the dragon of knowledge.  He also doesn’t have horns.
  9. The Dragon King is not one dragon, but four. Each rules of the seas: North, South, East, and West. If you want it to rain, you go to the Dragon King.

Explaining the nine dragons to children can be fun. They might think it’s pretty cool that there are nine magical creatures. It just makes sense to buy dragon inspired Chinese New Year gifts.

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We are so lucky in AJ Panda’s hometown of St. Louis to have so many fun events that celebrate Chinese culture. From the Chinese Culture Days at the Missouri Botanical Garden to multiple Chinese New Year celebrations, we can always find somewhere to celebrate, share and learn more about Chinese culture.

This past weekend, the annual International Institute’s Festival of Nations was held in Tower Grove Park. This event showcases dance, music, crafts and food from cultures from all over the globe. Festival headliner was COBU, an all-female dance troupe that fuses Japanese traditional Taiko drumming with tap dance that traveled all the way from New York to perform. Students from St. Louis Modern Chinese School performed Mayila,a Kazakah dance.

Festival attendees were able to sample cuisine from 40 nationalities. My personal favorite from the day was Turkish borek, a pillowy pastry stuffed with spinach and feta.

If you weren’t lucky enough to attend this year’s event, you might want to mark your calendars now for next year’s! For more information, visit their website at www.festivalofnationsstl.org.


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Time to start gearing up to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival! This festival, sometimes called the Mooncake Festival, is for worshipping the moon when it is at its fullest and roundest. It takes place on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, which falls on September 12 this year. The celebration dates back 3,000 years to China’s Shang Dynasty.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most important holidays in China, second only to Chinese New Year. On this day, friends and families gather to admire the bright-autumn harvest moon and eat mooncakes. Traditionally, thirteen moon cakes are piled in a pyramid to symbolize the thirteen moons of a “complete year,” being twelve moons plus one intercalary moon.

Visit AJPanda.com for the complete Mid-Autumn Festival history and mooncake recipes!



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Chinese Symbols

Happy Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is fast approaching! It will be celebrated on May 8 this year and it’s never too early to start thinking about how to honor all the terrific mothers in your life.

Mother’s Day is widely celebrated in the United States, and it is gaining popularity in China. The theme of the holiday falls right in line with one of China’s main traditional ethics – respect the elderly.

Moms make everything more wonderful so now is the time to go all out and find something terrific for your mother to show her how much she means to you. Our Mother’s Day Gift Guide can help! In addition to our collection of Chinese symbol jewelry, we have lots of gift ideas moms will love like our Chinese silk cosmetic bags or change purses. Authentic Chinese porcelain tea sets or teacups are always a hit, as are our porcelain chopsticks set. Moms who love to cook could whip up every delicious recipe in our Chinese cookbooks. Find something for the mother or grandmother on your list at AJ Panda.

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Ni Hao!

With Easter coming up soon, some adoptive parents wonder how important the holiday is to their children from China. Popular to contrary belief, the Easter holiday is also celebrated in China. Even beyond the religious implications, Easter has many significances in the Chinese culture. Easter in China symbolizes the conclusion of winter and the magnificent rebirth of spring.

The three most common symbols that are associated with Easter in the West are:  the Easter egg, rabbits, and baby chicks and all hold significance in Chinese culture as well.  In one of the creation stories from ancient China, the world was created from an egg of chaos.  Rabbits and chicks can be seen in many pieces of art, often there to symbolize life and birth.

To wish someone a “Happy Easter” in Chinese, say:  fu huo jie kuai le. Literally translated it means “happy festival for the sign life”.

AJ Panda has the perfect goodies for any Easter basket. Use our Easter Gift Guide to help you select the perfect items to put in Easter baskets for children of any age. You can start with any of our Asian dolls and browse through our toy collection that includes gifts like Chinese noise makers and 3D puzzles. For older children, we have Chinese journals and a large selection or Chinese character and jade jewelry.

Fu huo jie kuai le to you and your family this Easter season!

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It was another great party in St Louis for the Chinese New Year. As in previous years, the FCC did a wonderful job organizing the venue (Maryland Heights Center), food and entertainment. It is an amazing experience to be around so many families sharing the same passions for Chinese culture. And best of all, it’s great to see all these beautiful children coming together to bond and connect. I know my daughters, for example, are impacted by the many peers who not only share their appearance, but also a similar history. When we leave the party, they always have a bit more spring in their steps.

This year the entertainment was a local acrobatic troupe based from the St. Louis City Museum, as well as puppet show put on by the Confucius Institute of St. Louis. The girls seemed to enjoy both performances, and especially the crafts that allowed them to get hands-on with celebrating the Chinese New Year.

Lastly, it was nice to walk around the silent auction and see the assortment of baskets. There were lots of interesting options and items to celebrate Chinese culture, and I even saw many of the items AJ Panda donated to the party. Unfortunately, however, I didn’t win any of the bids! Next year I suppose I’ll have to make bigger bids!

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Year of the Rabbit

We’re a few weeks into the Chinese New Year 2011, the Year of the Rabbit, and we hope that you got to celebrate with friends and family. We were fortunate enough to be able to be a part of Chinese New Year celebrations at Northern New Jersey Huaxia Chinese School, Kwong Kow Chinese School, Great Wall Chinese Academy, and The Chinese Language School of Connecticut.

The Rabbit is the fourth sign of the Chinese Zodiac and is a lucky sign. Tradition states the Rabbit brings a year that will allow you to catch your breath and calm your nerves. It is associated with home, family, diplomacy and peace, which will help this year be a calmer one than 2010 on all levels.

People born during the Year of the Rabbit lead a peaceful life, but also possess a strong will. They are lucky in business and financial transactions and have impeccable manners. You can always rely on the Rabbit to be in control of himself and they really know how to live and let live. The Sheep, Dog and Pig are most compatible with the Rabbit and will also find 2011’s circumstances bring them great personal and professional happiness.

AJ Panda has a good selection of Rabbit items to help you celebrate all year long. Check them out! Here’s to a lucky, peaceful, successful Year of the Rabbit to all!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone from all of us here at AJ Panda! We hope you get to spend some quality time today with the people you love. Here are a few Valentine’s Day fun facts you might find interesting today:

  • Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending season of the year, coming in only behind Christmas. About 1 BILLION Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged in the U.S. alone each year!
  • Women purchase 85% of all valentines, but men buy 73% of Valentine’s Day flowers.
  • To be awoken by a kiss on Valentine’s Day morning is considered to be very lucky.
  • One Valentine’s Day superstition states that if you see a squirrel on Valentine’s Day, you will marry a cheapskate who will hoard your money. LOL
  • In my opinion, the most romantic Valentine’s Day superstition I have heard is if you find a glove on the road today, your future beloved will have the other missing glove. It kind of reminds me of Cinderella and her glass slipper.

Whoever you’re spending today with, don’t forget to say Wo Ai Ni!

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