Happy New Year!

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Today is Chinese New Year, the most important of all Chinese holidays.  Beginning on the first day of the first lunar month, the festival continues until 15th, this day being known as Lantern Festival.  New Year and the Spring Festival are big business in China.  It is a time where families reunite – resulting in huge people migration across the country.  Migrant workers return home from the cities, and even overseas Chinese return to celebrate with their families.  For many in the country, it can be the only chance to see their family for the entire year, what with so many parents working hundreds of miles away with their children raised by grandparents. 

A typical scene outside Wuxi Train Station as thousands return home for New Year.

A typical scene outside Shanghai Train Station as thousands return home for New Year.

We have had many emails from our former students in the last couple of days, detailing how they will spend their holiday from school.  Most of them are excited at the thought of going home, and being given presents and money in red envelopes by their family.  As is the way with any Chinese festivity, families enjoy a celebratory dinner accompanied by either dumplings (jiaozi – which symbolise wealth due to their shape) or new year cake (niangao). 

Possibly the highlight though is the New Years Gala which is broadcast on CCTV – the mind can only boggle at the wonderment that must be felt watching such a spectacle. 

We were really looking forward to experiencing Chinese New Year, with our hope being to spend the time in Shanghai.  Our second day in China was Lantern Festival day, unfortunately we hadn’t yet found our feet enough to venture into the city for the festivities.  Sadly though, we will have to watch from a distance this year with the hope of being in China again in the future.

Workers decorating outside the Birds Nest

Workers decorating outside the Birds Nest

Young girls practicing a dance in earthquake affected Sichuan Province.

Young girls practicing a dance in earthquake affected Sichuan Province.

This year celebrates the Year of the Ox.  The Ox symbolises a year of prosperity through hardwork.  It is a powerful sign, showing leadership, dependability and patience.  However, this year is expected to be one of conservatism and traditional values, which probably reflects the current financial state of the world.

year-of-the-ox

I have no doubt we’ll be able to hear the fireworks from here tonight.  And with that – Happy New Year everyone!

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