Spring festival 2014 – Beijing
SPRING FESTIVAL – OR AS WE (I) 外国人 (FOREINGERS) CALL IT – THE BIG BOOM VACATION!
Why the big boom some might ask? it goes like this:
Imagine going out for a nice dinner, roaming the streets of Beijing (which are quite empty this time of year), everything is quiet and calm, and all of a sudden sounds of war surrounds you!
You look to the left! nothing! you look to the right! but wait.. no tanks are to be seen, no army man, so, what’s the fuss all about?
The locals bought fire crackers and fireworks at the local shop, and they are going all out with testing the new purchases!
They set up local boom shops every 200 meters or so.
So imagine yourself walking down the street, and everywhere around you people are popping those noisy fire crackers and fireworks, and I do mean everywhere!
In fact – even though I come out sarcastic and even a little angry some might say, I’m not.
There’s a crazy atmosphere here (in a good way), everybody’s happy and the city took up a festive look.
And as a “bonus” – the city is actually almost empty! which leaves us “outsiders” some empty streets and empty stores to roam at (although most of the places are closed – as the owners went back to their home town).
Now, after my Polish side “spoke his mind” – a little bit of the history:
The Chinese new year holiday goes way back, (over 4000 years back) and considered to be the most important holiday in the Chinese culture, and respectively it’s the biggest celebration.
The spring festival (also known as lunar new year) was actually originated by “fear”.
The legend goes that there was once (and still is) a mythical lion like monster named Nian (年) – also means ‘Year’ in Chinese, and this monster used to go from village to village and ruin everything, cause mayhem and sow fear into the locals.
Then, a wise old man came to the villagers and advised them that Nian is actually afraid of the color red* and dislikes noise.
So the villagers took his advise and started hanging red wraps and rolls on their houses and doors, and started beating the drums and blowing firecrackers – that worked and Nian was not seen since ;).
So now – every time the second new moon, after the winter solstice hits – the booms are to be heard all throughout China and “the area” (see below**).
The holiday is time for Chinese families to get together and have the annual dinner (dumplings) and to “cleanse” the house from bad vibes and make room for good incoming luck.
They also give away money (usually to youngsters) in red paper bags – called “Hongbao” ( 红包).
*The color red in Chinese tradition is to drive away evil spirits and to bring good luck
**The festival is not being held in mainland China alone, but in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Philippines and China Town’s all over the world.
Now – for us – the foreigners – this holiday was a blast..!
Imagine having an entire city as “your” playground..! walk down the street without having to push your way, going to parks, restaurants and almost no people..!
Have a good one!