The most wonderful time of the year is here, and expats and locals are gearing up to celebrate. The traditions are not quite like home for the international crowd but strive for a festive mood.
Many mixed families celebrate more than one holiday during this time of year. Some major holidays include Diwali, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, after which Chinese New Year (CNY) follows. (This year CNY is knocking at our doors a little earlier on January 25.)
No matter where you are from or which of the above festivals you celebrate, it is a time when families and friends come together. Lights glowing, the smell of turkey cooking in the oven and Christmas trees adorning living spaces define some of the ways the holidays are celebrated for many expats.
Diwali is considered the reign of light over darkness during this five-day Hindu festival, and is noted for the stunning light displays. Many legends surround the reason Diwali is celebrated, but during this time homes and buildings are thoroughly illuminated. The holiday started on October 25 and went through to October 29.
The largest part of the holiday was on the third night (October 27), which is the darkest night of the Hindu calendar. Celebrations include cleaning and redecorating homes and workspaces during the buildup, and wearing your best clothes, filling the inside and outside of your home with lights, lighting fireworks, having a family dinner and exchanging gifts.
The Indian community in Dongguan is planning a small party on November 10.
Thanksgiving occurs on the fourth Thursday in November for the U.S. and in October in Canada and was originally based on celebrating the harvest but has changed to a time of reflection and thanks. Even today, families and friends gather at home for a traditional dinner or go out to a restaurant that has a special Thanksgiving dinner on offer.
In Dongguan, several restaurants are offering Thanksgiving meals. Grateful Q is roasting three turkeys with everything made from scratch, Murray’s, THREE DROPS, Liberty and a few other restaurants will also provide traditional turkey meals. Check out the events calendar on page 40 to find out when and where your kind of Thanksgiving is happening. Don’t forget to book your table.
Christmas is celebrated by a large number of the expat population here in Dongguan; some for the traditional reasons others because they do not want to miss a holiday with presents.
Christmas is celebrated by a large number of expats in Dongguan; some for the traditional reasons, others because they do not want to miss a holiday with presents. As it coincides with the international school holidays, many people fly home to their families or have their families come over to celebrate.
Christmas trees go up weeks before and presents and meals are shared.
For those who choose to stay, or are stuck, in Dongguan, celebrations start with the annual Hyatt Christmas Charity Fair & Lighting Ceremony on November 30, with all proceeds going to Treasures of Hope (TOH).
Stop by the DG Christmas Festival sponsored by TOH and HERE! on December 7 in 33 Town or have a cup of mulled wine and get into the Christmas spirit with the HERE! Square Christmas Village, December 20 to 25.
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is the most important festival in China and marks the first day of the lunar calendar. It witnesses the highest human migration in the world, with people traveling back to their hometowns with their families.
Dongguan is no different, transforming from a busy manufacturing city to a ghost town due to most workers not originally from the area. Fireworks, dumplings and paying homage to ancestors are among some of the traditions during CNY. The exchange of Hongbao (red packets) with cash between colleagues and family members is all part of the celebration. This year marks the Year of the Rat and resets the 12 year cycle.
If you can survive the traffic of people going from point A to point B, this is the best time to travel to Southeast Asia. If you are not feeling that adventurous, navigate the empty streets and outer areas of Dongguan.