Today is the first day of the New Year in the traditional Chinese lunar calendar. According to the Chinese zodiac, this is the Year of the Monkey. If I were still in my Beijing apartment, this is what I would be seeing outside my living room window.
(If you are reading this by email, please click on this link to see the video.)
But I’m in Minnesota now, so the only thing I’m seeing out my living room window today is blowing snow!
Here’s a round-up of recent articles about Chinese New Year.
Spring Festival Treats – A Laowai’s Adventure (The World of Chinese)
Chunwan (春晚): CCTV New Year’s Gala (What’s on Weibo)
Aerial: 30,000 Stranded at Chinese Train station (China Real Time)
A question for my American readers — did you enjoy your local fireworks display last night? They were most likely made by hand in a small factory somewhere in China.
The Asia Society blog recently posted a series of photos from a fireworks factory in China. Here is some of the accompanying text:
Fireworks and the United States have a longstanding relationship dating back to 1777, when John Adams commissioned a fireworks show as part of the Independence Day celebrations, prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He wrote that the festivities should include “pomp and parade” but most notably, “illuminations from one End of this Continent from this time forward forever more.”
Though some may believe fireworks to be a distinctly American tradition, they are — like many things — believed to have been invented in China more than 1,300 years ago. Indeed, most of the fireworks exploding in the U.S. skies this weekend will have come from China, the world’s largest producer and exporter. And there’s no shortage of demand. In 2012, the U.S. spent roughly $1 billion on fireworks, with a staggering $645 million spent on July 4 festivities alone. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA), this number continues to grow steadily, earning the industry the title “recession-proof.”
The amount of hard work to produce these short lived light shows is eye-opening. In China, fireworks are predominantly made by hand by factory workers.
Click here to see the full collection of photos.
And in case you’re wondering, I did not go anywhere to watch the fireworks last night. This video clip showing the scene from my apartment window in Beijing during Spring Festival every year will explain why!
(if you receive this post by email and cannot see the video clip, click here)
I’m not in Beijing to experience the Chinese New Year celebrations, but if I were, this is what I would be seeing outside my living room window:
That clip was filmed on New Year’s Eve, 2010 — from my living room window!
Part of me is glad to be missing that and part if me wishes I were there.
Story of my life, I guess…
Here are some interesting articles about the New Year celebrations in China.
From The Guardian: Chinese new year: mass holiday exodus underway – video
The world’s largest annual human migration reaches its peak on Friday, as millions in China travel home for the lunar new year. With around 200 million people on the move, pressure on the transport network is reaching a critical point. One traveller has devised a head-support sleeping aid to make the long journey home more pleasant.
From NPR: Chinese New Year: Dumplings, Rice Cakes And Long Life
About 3,000 years ago, give or take a couple of decades, the Chinese people began celebrating the beginning of their calendar year with a joyful festival they called Lunar New Year. They cleaned their homes, welcomed relatives, bought or made new clothes and set off firecrackers. And there was feasting and special offerings made to the Kitchen God for about two weeks.
From the BBC: Behind the scenes as Chinese TV prepares for New Year Gala