Chinese New Year Traditions with Manaola Yap

In celebration of the Yap ‘ohana’s Chinese heritage, they celebrate the Lunar New Year with traditional Lion Dance performances throughout Hawai‘i with the Big Island Shaolin Arts group, led by their father, Edward Yap. As Chinese New Year approaches, designer Manaola Yap reflects on some of his favorite memories of this festive holiday and the special traditions he and his family share.

What Chinese New Year traditions do your family practice each year?

Each year the Lunar New Year for our family starts with a clean house which is crucial to the New Year celebration. We always pop firecrackers on the four corners of the house to send the smoke signals to the heavens for blessings and perform the Chinese Lion Dance.

What was your favorite part of the Chinese New Year celebration?

As a keiki, my favorite part of Chinese New Year was traveling throughout the islands to local business and performing the lion dance for them with Big Island Shaolin Arts group.

What is your favorite Chinese New Year memory?

Growing up, my favorite part was going to Tong Wo temple in Kohala, which is the oldest early Chinese temple and society house. The alter tables were always dressed and crowded with incense, colorful decorations and all kinds of delicacies. When the festivities and blessings were done we would feast on an assortment of foods that the local Chinese families of Kohala would bring.

What does it mean to you to have a store to bless for Chinese New Year?

It’s important for us to bless the MANAOLA at Hula Lehua to assure good tidings for the new year.  It’s tradition for many Chinese-Hawaiian business owners like myself to welcome the ambassador of heaven to dance, to ward off all negtivity and shower blessings throughout our business for success in the new year.