Three Easy Ways to Celebrate AAPI Month

May 22, 2024

You might know that May is recognized as AAPI Heritage Month, but do you know why it is celebrated or how you can participate? Asian American and Pacific Islander Month (now actually called Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Month) was originally designated to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants to arrive in the United States in 1843. It has grown to become a beautiful way to honor Asian American people, culture, arts, and traditions. 

To help celebrate AAPI month, we’ve found three easy ways to enjoy some traditional activities that people of all ages can participate in. They’re artsy and accessible to all! 

Honor the Beautiful Hibiscus

Hibiscus flowers are iconic tropical blossoms known for their large, trumpet-shaped petals and vibrant colors. These flowers are native to warm climates and are commonly found in regions such as Hawaii, South Korea, Malaysia, The Solomon Islands, and the Philippines. They are deeply ingrained in many Asian cultures and are often used to welcome visitors in “leis” or garlands.

The hibiscus flower carries different meanings across various cultures, symbolizing everything from beauty and joy to charm, wealth, and prosperity. In fact, they are often worn by locals as a way to share their relationship status. It is believed that if a hibiscus bloom is worn behind a woman’s left ear, she is taken or married. If it is worn on the right side, she is available or single.

To commemorate AAPI month, consider decorating your space with some hibiscus flowers (real blooms are lovely but well-constructed faux versions will certainly do the trick!)

If you’re feeling creative, a step-by-step hibiscus painting tutorial might be right up your alley. If that’s a little too adventurous, a printable coloring page is another great way to revel in the beauty of the hibiscus flower while enjoying a peaceful and calming activity.

Practice Peaceful Tai Chi

Popular around the world, this graceful practice feels just about as relaxing and centering as it looks. Tai Chi is believed to have originated in China during the 12th century and has stood the test of time for good reason.

Tai Chi is a gentle exercise that can help maintain strength, flexibility, and balance. It’s an excellent way to reduce stress and anxiety, and it can also help enhance sleep quality. With continued practice, Tai Chi is also believed to improve cardiovascular fitness and bolster the immune system.

May is the perfect time to give it a try! You can find an easy-to-follow video, or see if there are Tai Chi classes offered in your community.

Explore Mind-Quieting Qigong

Similar to Tai Chi, Quigong (pronounced “chi gong” ) is sometimes considered the “simpler” or “more mindful” of the two, focusing more on cultivating energy — known as chi or qi — than the physical form of Tai Chi. It can be an even more mindful practice, combining slow, deliberate movements with deep breathing and meditation.

Developed thousands of years ago as a form of traditional Chinese medicine, Qigong uses breath and body exercises to optimize the flow of energy. Its physical and psychological components can help improve and maintain health and well-being by regulating the mind, breath, and body’s movement and posture.

One low-impact activity that unites mind, body, and spirit… What’s not to like? Check out an introductory video or ask around if your community hosts Qigong classes.

There are so many ways to celebrate AAPI culture and practices throughout the year, but this might be the perfect time of year to give something new a try. Happy Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander month!