Happy Birthday, China

Today is the 59th anniversary of  the founding of the People's Republic of China, the day when Mao stood atop the Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tiananmen) and proclaimed that the Chinese people had 'stood up.' While the day used to be celebrated with military parades and mass events, in the modern China it has become just another consumer holiday — the entire country gets 7 days off to go shopping. 

Danwei.org has posted an interesting article about the National Day celebrations of 1984, marking China's 35th birthday.  I was particularly interested in this because 1984 was the year I started working in China, and I remember well the celebrations that year.  I was teaching with a group of Americans at a small college in Zhengzhou, Henan.  We, along with the handful of other foreigners in town were hosted to a day of activities that began with 4-hour military parade (soldiers waving plastic flowers) and ended with a massive fireworks display being shot into the low-hanging clouds.  Not much to look at, but it sure made a lot of noise. 

It never ocurred to me at that time that I would still be in China (ok, I'm in the US for a couple of weeks, but you know what I mean) 25 years later!!!  It looks like China and I are growing old together!