CNY 2012

Xin nian kuai le (shin knee-en coo-eye luh) Happy New Year!

You gotta love it when an entire country literally takes a week off to celebrate the lunar new year. Festivities abound and firecrackers are in the air! The color red (one of my favorites for any occasion) and dragons are seen EVERYWHERE!  Everyone is in a good mood: the people who have time off are happy and those that don’t are typically in service industries (transportation, food, retail) – they’re happy too ’cause they know they’ll make a ton of money. Stores are having HUGE sales and despite the chilly weather, a warm, inviting atmosphere prevails.

I was invited to Yingge to spend an evening with the family of my Melaleuca upline. She told me the “rules” for observing CNY with your family. Unmarried children go to their parent’s home for at least the first 3 days (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday) of CNY. Married children, spend the first few days with the wife’s family and the next few days with the husband’s. Parents give their small children hong bao (red envelopes) filled with money. Sometimes, the older children give their parents hong bao (I haven’t figured that one out yet….). It’s a sign of respect and, as far as I can tell, more of a symbolic gesture than a means to pad ones bank account. I think I shocked the nice people in the Temple below my apartment by handing them a red envelope. It wasn’t much; just a way to say “thanks” and to help towards the cost of updating their interior, which looks amazing.

Lots of people take  extra time off in conjunction with the national holiday so I’m sure the party feeling will continue…

Preparing for CNY 2012

It’s the “Year of the Dragon”, y’all! In preparation for the Chinese New Year, red, black, nd gold decorations are being hawked in nearly every store and street corner. The selection is mind-boggling: dragons in every size, “blessings” and wishes for health, wealth, and happiness. Red velvet and brocade “firecrackers” on a string. Hong bao (red envelopes) waiting to hold gifts of money to share with loved ones.

Chinese New Year decorations

At work, they hired three members of a local calligraphy club to create personalized red banners for each of us, to be placed above and next to our apartment doors. The ancient ones labored for many hours to share their “gift” with us. We had 60 different sentiments to choose from. Mine are in place – I’m really not sure what they say or even that I placed them correctly (for all I know they could be upside down!). A local business placed a wish for “heavenly blessing and protection” in our mailboxes.

The Temple downstairs has been busy renovating half of it’s interior with incredible bas relief tableaus carved out of stone, statuary, and other architectural elements I don’t the names of! Everyone is preparing for a week of celebrations with family and friends. My Chinese teacher is headed to Shanghai to visit her parents. Wellcome has aisles and aisles of specialty foods. I’ve been invited to several parties which I’m guessing are mainly about eating but I’ll find out soon enough…

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As for me, I will take the road less travelled…