Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year is a huge deal around here. It can be compared to our "Christmas", but I think it was even bigger than that. Everyone gets time off for CNY to be able to travel back to their home towns in China. The whole city practically shuts down. People are advised to do all their shopping and stock up because all the stores are closed for at least a few days. Peyton's local Chinese coworkers were gone for about 2 weeks, the grocery stores were closed, the streets were empty, and there were a TON of fireworks. I learned a lot from being in Shanghai on Chinese New Year. They have a lot of customs and traditions during this special holiday. Such as...

  • The New Year meal of dumplings is customary with your whole family. They eat the dumplings at midnight. They are supposed to symbolize prosperity. 
  • the Red packet, or envelope is given with money inside. It is customary to give these envelopes to people who work for you as a type of "bonus." Some people will not agree to work for you if you do not promise a red envelope at Chinese New Year. 
  • The locals believe that you need to do a thorough and extensive house cleaning right before the New Year. it is supposed to signify "out with the in, welcome the New." I did not participate in this tradition. 
 We went one night to check out all the decorations and lanterns at Yu Gardens. This place was really decked out with everything. It was also really busy with lots of people everywhere. I loved seeing everything so festive.

We aren't really sure why Adam & Eve, and maybe a Jesus were present on a float, but...they tried to mix it up, and for that I give them credit. 

Because nothing says "Happy Chinese New Year" like the Seven Dwarfs! 

Fireworks are a big deal and are used to drive the "devil out of China." They really take this seriously. We bought some from a little booth in front of our apartment and lit them off at 10pm. At midnight everyone lights off fireworks in the street for good luck. We watched them ignite from our balcony. After about an hour of the amateur firework show the air was so polluted and smoggy you couldn't see right in front of you. Ive never seen anything quite like this. The fireworks that were sold, weren't dinky ones. Peyton and I bought "Disneyland" fireworks and lit them off in the street and my Husband was in heaven! I can definitely say that the devil is NOWHERE to be found in China after this firework experience. And it didn't last there. The fireworks kept being lit off for all 2 weeks. It was bananas! 

The next day we left on our vacation, and it was kind of nice to be able to experience the big New Year night and then escape the craziness of the rest of the 2 weeks. China has so much to offer, and I am glad we are experiencing all these little cultural traditions while we are here.