Asia is a very large and diverse continent. In the United States, the Asian-American population consists of people from six different cultures. Approximately 83% of Asian-Americans trace their lineages back to China, the Philippines, India, Vietnam, Korea and Japan. May has been Asian Pacific American Heritage Month since 1990 when President George H. W. Bush officially proclaimed it such. The tradition had been started by President Jimmy Carter in 1977. Since them, many cities boast many event listings to celebrate Asian culture around that time. Asian culture and history are important to the American experience and identity.
Fun Facts About Asia and Asian Cultures:
- More than 33% of the world lives in China and India. As of 2012, at least 2.5 billion people called China and India their home. That means nearly one-third of the people on earth live in one of these two countries. That is pretty amazing. If you look at the entire continent, you have 60% of the planet’s population or 4.1 billion people.
- The world’s largest mall is in China and it is deserted. Opened in 2005, the New South China Mall in Dongguan, China has a leasable areas of about 650,000 square meters. That is more than double the space of the Mall of America (250,00 square meters). The Chinese mall has a replica of the Arc de Triomphe and a canal that runs 1.3 miles. In the past year, this mall has seen new life as businesses and stores are moving in and renovating so its death may have been exaggerated.
- The Chinese New Year is the largest festival in that country. Also called the “Spring Festival,” is lasts for about 15 days and marks the start of the lunar calendar. Usually it begins in late January or early February. It is celebrated in several other Asian countries such as Thailand and Vietnam.
- The Thai celebrate it with water pistols. In Thailand, it is called “Songkran” and takes place between April 13th through the 15th. The tradition began as a spiritual one with people pouring water over statues of Buddhas around the country. For good luck, the water was then collected and poured over family members and other loved ones. Over the years the tradition evolved to include mixing water with flour or baby powder. Today, it is just an excuse to spray anyone you want with a water pistol and they are sold everywhere. You do not need event listings to join in the fun, just a water gun.
- Check out the Festival of Colors in India. If water pistols are not your thing, you might want to check out the Indian Holi Festival. For two days, people celebrate with large feasts and by pouring water dyed with bright colors on each other.
- China has only one time zone. Despite its large size and larger population, it is the same time everywhere in China. This may make it easier to look up event listings in all the cities and easier to call friends and family but it might be harder to deal with mornings in some parts of the country than others.
- North Koreans celebrate Christmas. While it is not set on December 25th and North Koreans officially are celebrating Kim Jong- Il’s mother’s birthday, it is a Christmas celebration. Though local event listings will not have any mentions of midnight masses.
Many American cities and towns honor Asian celebrations and festivals. You can check your local newspaper or search the internet for Asian cultural heritage events in your area. Many restaurants that feature Asian cuisine also offer events such as the tea ceremony.
Asian-Americans comprise nearly 20% of the American population as a whole. You would be hard pressed to find a part of the country that has had no benefits from Asian cultures. From sushi at the local grocery store to a parade every year marking the Chinese New Year, the impact on the “American” culture is hard to miss. It is just one more of the amazing flavors that adds to the rich melting pot of cultures and traditions that is the United States. Check out a fun Asian cultural event to learn more about this amazing continent and the people from there.