Today is Day 3 of 15 of the Chinese New Year. As an expat in Asia, it just means another vacation day with the kids, but to my Chinese neighbors it is another day of celebrating with family…usually the wife’s family.
I’ve been more nostalgic this year. Maybe it is an age thing. Maybe it is because we moved again this year. Maybe it is just because I have time right now as I sit here and write. Whatever the reason, my first experience was wild.
I remember walking from my third floor apartment over to my friend’s apartment, which was just the next building over. Not far. I could hear the explosion of firecrackers booming and others popping like an automatic gun. I stepped out of the exit-way, only to jump back inside the stairwell. A flaming rocket had just flew by within inches of my head. I peeked out cautiously and wide-eyed. The quiet little neighborhood had turned into a free for all war-zone of a party. I covered my ears and ran towards the safety zone, heart beating as I ran up the stairs to the fifth floor apartment.
I’ve not experienced that kind of celebration for a few years now. Reasons?
A few years after I was married with babies, we’d hide out in hotels on the 19+ floor where we couldn’t hear a thing, except the TV episodes of “Friends” showing on Star World. Who wants to deal with crying scared babies at midnight? We didn’t.
Other years, Christmas and Chinese New Year’s vacations were linked together and we left the country to visit family for the longer vacation time. Christmas with extended family is always GREAT!
The past few years we have lived in Taipei. Most of the people that live in Taipei, especially in the area we had lived in, were not from Taipei. That meant they left for their parent’s home, leaving that part of the city very quiet, a bit on the eerie side. Our move has put us in an area of Taipei where people stay and celebrate. They are really from here.
This year we have experienced more of what we remember of CNY. Our neighbors have all decorated their doors with various banners.
We have decorated our door with the traditional red signs that some Christian friends gave us. If you want to read more about why this is traditionally done by the Chinese, you can read about it here.
We experienced the fireworks, though NOTHING like my first experience. Uwe and I stood on our balcony and watched a beautiful display of fireworks on the river for about 15 minutes or so. It was too cold for me to stay out longer.
As we stood and watched the green and red glows, an automatic gun sound blasted in the other direction. I looked up and saw the silhouette of a bamboo pole swaying over the building with about 2-meters worth of firecrackers popping it’s way up to the end. These loud firecrackers are to scare the evil spirits to not come into their home. I’m not so sure how much of this is still believed vs. tradition. I’m thinking a little of both.
So, what does tomorrow look like for us? Maybe we will go and let the kids spend some of the red envelop money. Close friends and family give children red envelops with money inside. Maybe we’ll watch more movies. Maybe we’ll go swimming in the local indoor pool. We are going to grill with some friends that evening. I am loving this break!
Your Turn: If you have experienced CNY, what is your most memorable one? If you haven’t, what aspect of this holiday intrigues you the most? Please share in the comments below.
And if you want to read more about this holiday, here is an informative blog post by Culture-4-travel about the 15-days of CNY/Spring Festival. Click here to read it.