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.
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 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|
|outside still crowded|