Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Year of the Dragon

Happy New Year, everyone!

I suppose for folks living in China, it is obligatory that I post something about Chinese New Year's on our blog.  We're now almost at the official end of Spring Festival Week, which went by too quickly, as holidays often do.  It's still been an amazingly relaxing time, free from classes and full of slept-in mornings.

Considering that Spring Festival is the biggest holiday of the year (imagine Christmas, Thanksgiving, Boxing Day, and New Year's Eve all rolled into one), the majority of the city shuts down.  Major malls, public transit, and chain supermarkets stay open for business while the rest of the Beijing turns into a Chinese version of the set of a zombie apocalypse film... or just a reasonably populated city in a Western country.  For us laowai, it's a dream come true-- free reign of the streets without having to worry about colliding with someone every five minutes, and quiet for extended periods of time.  For our Chinese friends, it's strange.  Where are all the people?  And why is it so eerily quiet?

In our case, our celebration was eerily quiet-- even for laowai.  We made plans to hang out at our friend's 22nd floor apartment to watch the insane free-reign fireworks that go off to usher in the new year.  The photos don't do the event justice, but just imagine if every family in China made it their mission to hold their own personal Disneyland fireworks show at midnight-- and pulled it off.  That's basically what happened.

Here are a few photos:

Coming up... a laowai's perception of Chinese New Year traditions.

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