Sunday, February 8, 2015

Xi Nian Kuaile, Happy Year of the Lamb!

     Chinese New Year celebration is in full swing here.  The girls have a school assembly on Friday, and are off for a week.  Chris has had several work parties.  I know I have mentioned it before but Chinese New Year is a very big deal.  This is the longest vacation many Chinese take all year, and they save and look forward to it. Traditionally, this is the time people return to their hometowns and visit family and friends.  The week before Chinese New Year is the largest migration of people in the world.  Every year there are stories of hoards and hoards of people in train stations, airports and bus terminals.
      Some people travel for days to get to their destination.  It is a custom to bring food and gifts to your family, so there are lots of packaged food and dried meats for sale.  Say, if you are meeting your boyfriend's family, you should bring whisky and a carton of cigarettes to the father.  If you are meeting your girlfriend's mother, you should bring her a box of chocolates or dried sausages or duck.  Everything should be in gold or red packaging for good luck.  There is a lot of pressure for young people to show up with a boyfriend or girlfriend.  If you don't, the entire family will spend the holiday questioning you, and trying to seek out someone else in the village to make a match.  There is always a story on the internet about someone who "rents" a boyfriend or girlfriend to bring home.  They just don't want to hear it and they know it's coming.

sausage, pork, fish
hanging outside on Liushan Lu
Emily and I went to YuYuan Garden yesterday.  So many Chinese New Year items!  We were looking for the fabric market that was nearby, Emily wanted to buy some yarn.  The area was full of stalls and shops that sold only one thing per store.  There was a rubber band store, a shoe insole store and nylon knee-hi store.  We finally found the yarn store.  Oddly enough, the yarn store also sold slippers.  

lots of yarn, and bags of slippers 
rubber bands only
I thought these were noodles at first
sorry, we only sell toilet seat covers
only insoles
only knee-hi stockings
And of course, lots of Chinese New Year decorations.  And lots of customary red envelopes to give out to those who helped you this year: the ayi, doorman, driver, etc.  If the new year is the same Chinese animal as the year you were born, than it is considered your "golden" year.  This means it can be momentous for you, in either good or bad ways.  To protect yourself, you need to wear red undergarments all year.  Really. 

hong bao - red envelope
year of the lamb
inside crowded
outside still crowded
only underwear

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