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.

The MANAOLA Lifestyle: Honoring Your Space

The MANAOLA Lifestyle

What does it mean to live the MANAOLA lifestyle, how can one do so?
To live the MANAOLA lifestyle is to learn to live in gratitude. Meaning to live life from the perspective of being thankful that life is given. Living a purposeful life and setting an intention in everything we do. Whether it is good or bad, making the realization of what is healthy for us and those that surround us and the energies that surround us, and how we can continue to make the intentions that do benefit us and all that surround us. That’s living the MANAOLA lifestyle, celebrating life. 

Honoring your space
I created home decor because I wanted to bring traditional elements into contemporary design through something that is organic. When you’re in your home you want it to look really cool but you want it to be relaxing and to be aesthetically stimulated by something familiar to the spirit, which is nature. Repetitious patterns in nature like ‘ohe kāpala do that for us, whether consciously or not, its happening. Patterns stimulate that kind of energy, so the first piece for me was to create decorative pillows because they are so versatile for any room in the home.

Plants are important because they give us oxygen. The simplicity of putting a live plant in the room changes the air because you’re bringing life into the room, you’re bringing Hāloa (breath) into the room, so its going to change the feeling of the space. I recommend trying to bring native plants into the home space, because they are the living embodiment of akua, they are kinolau or leaf bodies. They are living symbols, like ulu or kukui, for growth and enlightenment. 

Taking the time to know where you live, not just your home but the land that you live in. To do the research to find out the name of that land and to speak it out loud, it honors the place that you call home.