Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chinese New Year's Eve

Living Room or Parlor: inside a typical
country-side home, decorated for the Holiday

Today is Chinese New Year’s Eve.  The last day of “Year of the Tiger” and “Year of the Rabbit” is hopping in. 

This is my 9th Chinese New Year in China….wow, just typing that makes me realize how long I’ve been here.  I’ve lived in China for almost 1/3 of my life.

Chinese New Year is a great time of year.  Many folks consider it the equivalent to Christmas time in the Western hemisphere.  Having spent time in both holiday seasons, I would say “yes and no” to that.   But perhaps that’s a different blog…. For now, want to highlight things to like about Chinese New Year.

Work Holiday:  This is the country’s biggest work holiday.  There is another weeklong holiday in October and May 1st is “Lao Dong Jie”, but nothing compares to the enormity of Chinese New Year.  Most folks take around 15 to 20 days off from work.  Those tired laborers from the manufacturing sector get an opportunity to head back to their hometowns, forget the cares of factory life and relax for an extended period. 

Cousins: Matching New Year's Outfits

Family Time: This is my 8th New Year with my wife, who is Chinese and her family.   Chinese New Year is a perfect time to spend countless hours with family in fellowship.  Families get together, play cards, play Mahjong, watch the Chinese New Year festivities on television (this could be compared to American Football on Thanksgiving or watching your favorite Christmas movie on tv)…all in all, families are sharing warm times.  But the most important thing that families do together….is eat!

The Food:  This time of year, regardless of your economic status, being frugal and cost conscience,  is thrown out the window.  There is tons of food.  Heaps of food.  People eat in their homes, go from house to house and restaurant to restaurant.  In between each meal there is an abundance of fruit and snacks.

The Big Cities are Empty, the Small Towns are Full:  Normally I go to my wife’s hometown for the holiday, this year, we’re spending it in Suzhou.  Beside from the constant barrage of fireworks, either in the distance or right in our apartment complex, this is the only time of year that Suzhou is quiet and traffic takes me back to a distant romantic past (circa 2001-2003) when you were not having to duck and dodge cars every time you stepped outside.
Small Town Street Vendors
 The small towns are full.  The pedestrian streets are abuzz with food and item vendors, games and typical Chinese New year fun.  If or when you visit China, this is a fun time of year to do so.  If you can, spend it in one of the smaller towns to reap a true Chine experience. 

Small-Towns: maintaining an aspect you
won't find in the top-tier cities & 5-star hotels.
 From JLmade and my family, “Women Zhu Ni Xin Nian Kuai Le / 祝你新年快
Happy New Year! 

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