In China the most important time of year is the Spring Festival. The Spring Festival is a long holiday that begins on Chinese New Year and people usually get 1 – 2 weeks off of work or school depending on their situation…
I had to leave to go to my new teaching job near Wenzhou on the 15th but before that on Chinese New Year I was lucky enough to have my friend Jen invite me to stay with her family for a few days.
There are many little traditions that take place during spring festival. First we each put up the character 福 meaning good luck on the windows. We put it upside down like in the picture because in Chinese turning something upside down has the same pronunciation as ‘to come’ therefore making the good luck come into the house.
During spring festival theres also a tradition of lighting fire crackers. I found this tradition pretty annoying… because at all hours of the day you’ll randomly hear a crazy string of really loud explosions that usually jolt you and interrupt whatever you’re doing… not to mention setting off a car alarm every single time.
The story behind the tradition is that in ancient times there was a wild beast that would come terrorize the villagers and steal their food. So to prevent this they learned they could scare the beast away by setting off loud firecrackers before eating.
My favourite tradtion during Spring Festival is a thing called lucky money! Older adults will give there children or usually any other relatives who aren’t yet married small red envelopes containing lucky money in them. Since I was welcomed into Jen’s family for the occasion Jen’s mom also gave me lucky money with a nice generous 100RMB note inside! It was so sweet of her.
Jen and her mom were amazingly hospitable during my stay and they cooked a really nice traditional spring festival dinner on the new years eve.
The meal was full of deliciousness, awesome dumplings and even some good old corn on the cob. Which I hadn’t seen since I left for China.
On Chinese New Year’s Eve we headed into town to see some fireworks.
I’m used to seeing fireworks shows during holidays in Canada, but the fireworks experience here was unlike anything I had seen in Canada! Instead of an organised holiday fireworks show, it was a everybody bring your own fireworks fest!
We went to a big open square and there were tons of people setting off monster fireworks left right and center! Some people had smaller playful fireworks but most of them were the real massive full sized fireworks! Usually when you see a fireworks show they are at a safe distance and in a certain direction, but here they were being set off on all sides of us we had to keep spinning around to see each one explode right over our heads.
If having fireworks go off literally 15 feet away from you on all sides wasn’t intense enough, the fact that the people setting off the fireworks weren’t professional caused a few accidents as well! There was at least 3 instances during the time we were there a firework barrel fell over and shot the massive fireworks along the ground instead of into the sky.
I saw one explode next to a man, one hit a parked car and one hit right into the center of a crowd of people. Not knowing if the next firework might be shot at you definitely kept things exciting! Strangely enough no one was hurt by these rouge blasts… fireworks are apparently less dangerous than I thought!
This free for all fire works show was definitely the most intense fire show experience of my life and was by far the most fun. This kind of day shows the freedom you can find in China to do things that might be considered a little crazy in the West. This freedom is one of the things I like the most about China!
Over the next couple of days we watched the olympics, went out for meals, watched the new Jacky Chan movie in theaters, and I even taught them how to cook grilled cheese sandwiches which they both found totally delicious. My days with Jens family were a wonderful experience of real Chinese family life and I’m totally honored and grateful they allowed me to share this special time of year with them.
The hospitality and friendliness of the friends I have met in China knows no limits. Thank you to everyone who has treated me so well along the way!