Life during Chinese New Year

14 days Before

Watching kids play with firecrackers and wondering, “where are all the fingerless 9-year-olds.”

13 days Before

If Christmas songs were annoying, the continuous looping of drum and gong at retail outlets accompanied by anharmonic children’s choruses is sure to complete the looney bin certification.

12 days Before

The tradition of buying a new wardrobe before the spring festival comes during that inconvenient season in Southern China’s narrow cold spell, and leads to an annual cramming of storage space the next month.

11 days Before

Yes, there were some impressive Christmas tree displays, but why do retailers leave them up until February working double duty as Spring Festival decorations?

10 days Before

Annual blast of winter-esque weather makes one almost pine for six months of summer.

9 days Before

In the central square, admiring two-meter high sculpture of whatever this year’s animal is.

8 days Before

Wondering hungrily, are those mandarin oranges really edible? Or will that bring seven year’s bad luck?

7 days Before

Stepping back and asking, “when did pictures of fat children first become decorative?”

6 days Before

More fireworks: up by the river, explosions all around—hopefully the closest most people will come to life during wartime.

5 days Before

Hongbao—Red Envelopes—the most generous and thoughtful of customs, if you’re on the receiving end.

4 days Before

Making dumplings—carefully folding the doughy wrappers into various shapes can be hours of fun for a big group. Eating those hours’ worth of dumplings afterwards—less fun.

3 days Before

World’s biggest annual migration of people: bus and train stations packed, crowded and chaotic even by standards of bus and train stations.

2 days Before

Not exactly I am Legend, but traffic declines to the point that it’s almost possible to walk down the middle of the street.

1 days Before

A local friend says on Spring Festival Eve, 100,000 people will go to the Qifeng Park temple to wish for good luck. Don’t believe him.

chinese new year

The Qifeng Park plazas and walkways are overwhelmed with a crush of at least tens of thousands of people, held back by gates, all eager to burn incense and wish for good luck.

15 days after

The Spring Festival ends with the Lantern Festival. Aptly named, but isn’t every festival celebrated with lanterns?