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2013 is the Year of the Snake and Chinese New Year celebrations are fast approaching! The 1st day of the 2013 Chinese astrology year begins on February 4th with Chinese New Year Day falling on Sunday, February 10th. Chinese New Year is the most important Chinese holiday and is known as Spring Festival in China. It ushers in the lunar New Year and is like rolling the West’s Christmas and New Year’s Eve into one giant celebration.

In the days leading up to the holiday, every house gets a thorough cleaning, because sweeping on New Year’s Day could sweep away the coming year’s good fortune. Nearly every university student and migrant worker travels home since it is such an important time for families to spend together and celebrate. Food plays an important role in the celebrations. Fish is a commonly served dish because the Chinese word for fish is a homophone for ‘surplus’. It is a lucrative time for children as red envelopes filled with money are given to young unmarried relatives by elders.

Snake years are sixth in the cycle and recur every 12 years. Chinese legend says a snake in the house is a good omen meaning your family will not starve. It is said that those born in the year of the snake are the wisest and most mysterious of all. They are usually financially secure and have a taste for the finer things in life. Snakes are goal-oriented, hate to fail, and are intense and passionate. Their weaknesses include being stubborn and jealous.

More specifically, 2013 is the year of the Water Snake. Water is an element that shapes us and will play a prevalent role in 2013. It provides calm, nurtures and forges new paths of discovery. Water’s influence makes this year the perfect time to take on new challenges and open yourself up to new experiences! This year will also bring many opportunities for the career and romantic life to flourish, and friendships will be more important than ever. This is a year for people to come together for a greater good. 

2013 is a year to be bold like the water snake and take chances! Best wishes to you from AJ Panda!

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Summer is here and it’s time to get out and enjoy the sun, fun water activities, quality time with family and friends, and delicious summer food. This summer, try to incorporate Chinese chopsticks in your picnic basket.  You’ll eat less and more slowly and you’ll be able to still enjoy all the scrumptious dishes you associate with summer.  Here are two summer recipe ideas with a Chinese twist.Image

Chinese Radish Salad
This salad is perfect for summer because it cools the body and it detoxes. You won’t feel guilty for indulging in this salad. Plus, it’s super easy to make. This dish is something you can eat with Chinese chopsticks.

1 bag radishes

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 1/2 tablespoons of light soy sauce

2 teaspoons of sugar

2 tablespoons of vinegar

2 tablespoons of sesame oil

Thinly peel and slice radishes into halves. Then add salt, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and sesame oil. That’s all you have to do.

Spiced Kielbasa and Summer Fruit Kabobs (Courtesy of Good Housekeeping)Image
This delicious kabob is spicy and sweet, perfect for summer parties. The Chinese five-spice powder gives these kabobs an added kick that quickly blends with the fruit and orange marmalade.

1 package (16 ounces) light kielbasa, cut into 1-inch chunks, substitute other smoked sausage

3 apricots, pitted and cut into quarters

2 ripe plums, pitted and cut into 1-inch chunks, substitute peaches

3 tablespoons sweet orange marmalade

1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder

Prepare outdoor grill for covered direct grilling over medium heat.  Meanwhile, alternately thread kielbasa, apricots, and plums onto 4 to 6 long metal skewers. In cup, combine marmalade and five-spice powder. Place skewers on hot grill rack. Cover grill and cook 5 minutes or until kielbasa browns and fruit chars slightly, turning skewers occasionally. Uncover grill. Brush marmalade mixture all over kielbasa and fruit. Cook 1 to 2 minutes longer, turning occasionally.

These two recipes can easily be transferred to your favorite picnic spot. Pack your Chinese chopstick sets, an easy to clean tablecloth, plates, along with other essentials and you’re good to go. If you don’t have Chinese chopstick sets, AJPanda.com has you covered.  Enjoy your summer!

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Another reason to book a trip to explore the wonderful country of China! When you go, make sure to visit the new skywalk on Tianmen Mountain in Hunan Province. Test your nerves by walking the 200-foot glass skywalk over a half mile up off the side of the mountain. Tianmen translates to Heavenly Gate Mountain, perfectly describing the views your will see. Also take a ride on one of the longest cable cars in the world while you’re at the park.

To help with your travel planning, AJ Panda has a wide selection of books on Chinese travel and culture.

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Th National Geographic documentary, “China’s Lost Girls” is a few years old now, but it still explains the consequences of China’s one-child policy very well. Host, Lisa Ling, examines the policy which was implemented about two decades ago to curb China’s growing population. Sons are preferred in China due to social, economic, social and traditional factors. This results in an enormous amount of girls growing up in orphanages across the country.

Chinese adoptions to Americans were approved in 1991, and today more than one quarter of all children adopted from abroad by American families come from China. Virtually all of these children are girls.

Ling travels with some American families as they travel to China to meet their new daughters for the very first time. While capturing the emotional journey, she also documents China’s growing gender gap, its roots and the repercussions it might face in the near future. Ling also learns of the less obvious consequences of China’s population changes. It is predicted that in several decades, China will have tens of millions of young men at marrying age with no women to marry. What will become of an entire generation of bachelors? And what does the future hold for China’s girls?

If you enjoy the preview, you can view the documentary in its entirety at SnagFilms.com.

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Exciting news in AJ Panda‘s hometown of St. Louis, MO today! The Missouri Botanical Garden, which already throws a fabulous Chinese Culture Days event each summer is planning on hosting America’s first large-scale Chinese lantern festival next summer. The event titled “Lantern Festival: Art by Day, Magic by Night” will feature 26 large-scale glowing sculptures of undulating dragons, lotus flowers, cherry blossoms and a three-story replica of the 15th century Beijing Heavenly Temple.

It will take approximately 40 professionals from Zigong, China’s lantern headquarters, to create the sculptures on-site using metal, silk, and lots and lots of light bulbs. The sculptures will even be motorized to give the illusion of dragons fighting and opera singers dancing!

It sounds like it’s going to be quite a production. Since the event isn’t until 2012, you have plenty of time to start planning your trip! If you would like to read the entire article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, you can find it here.

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Hope Heart

AJ Panda is pleased to announce we now offer Hope Heart jewelry designs! The Hope Heart necklace symbolizes the Chinese philosophy of yin and yang and that there are two complementary forces that exist in nature.

The design was created by Lauren Rose Weinkrantz for her mother, Barbara Permilla Roth. The message of hope conveys the love and peace that they wanted to share with the world. Give this necklace as a gift to symbolize the love and hope you feel for that important person in your life or keep it for yourself as a daily reminder.

 

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Men are hard to shop for! But don’t worry, we’re here to help pick out the perfect Father’s Day Gift. Spend the day with Dad putting together a 3D puzzle or a competitive game of Mahjong, Chinese Checkers or Mandarin Chess. We’ve also got apparel for the stylish Dad or many desk accessories for the professional Dad. Check out our Father’s Day Gift Guide for ideas for every Dad! Father’s Day is coming up fast and falls on June 19th this year!

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The annual Chinese Culture Days at Missouri Botanical Gardens is always such a fun event that I had to post a few pictures from this year’s celebration this past weekend. Festivities included Chinese calligraphy, tea tasting, painting, authentic regional cuisine, and a Grand Parade with a 70-foot dancing dragon! If you are ever around St. Louis the weekend of this event, we high recommend attending!

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If you happen to be in AJ Panda’s hometown of St. Louis this weekend, we highly recommend you check out the Chinese Culture Days 2011 at the Missouri Botanical Garden. One of the MO Botanical Garden’s most popular annual events, Chinese Culture Days is a two-day festival featuring cooking demonstrations, folk dancing and fashion shows. Make sure you catch the Grand Parade each day complete with acrobats, martial artists and dragon dancers. The New Shanghai Circus will also be performing. For a detailed schedule of the weekends events and activities, visit the Missouri Botanical Garden website.

Chinese Culture Day

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Miss Corolle Lou Doll

Congratulations to Gina Yokel Farmer for winning our Chinese doll giveaway! She won our newest doll, the Miss Corolle Lou Doll. Lou is the latest in the Miss Corolle Classic Dolls line. She is 14″ tall with a soft, huggable body, and beautiful brown eyes and hair. Her long hair can be brushed and styled in many different ways. Her party dress, striped tights, and ballerina flats make her ready for any fun outing with your child. Doll is appropriate for ages 3+.

Check back often for our next giveaway!

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