Chinese New Year
CNY was never as exciting in Beijing as it is elsewhere around the World ... at least until this year!
Normally CNY is just an excuse to wear red, put red everywhere and spend time with families. The streets become quiet and work stops. Occasionally families trek to a 'Temple Fair' to stuff themselves with food and see a bit of dancing and cultural acting. Its nice, but mellow.
But this year Beijing legalised firecrackers/works throughout the city (with strict controls apparently -most other cities had never outlawed it, and I heard Shanghai was crazy during CNY. But having returned to Beijing on wednesday I had heard a few (very, painfully loud) firecrackers going off every night...and soon came to agree with those who had been in Beijing for the New Year (I was in Bangkok) that after an hour of fun, it becomes annoying.
Tonight was the end of the celebrations: Lantern festival is another time to hang out with the folks and eat Tengyuan (little glutinous balls with hundreds of different falvours, such as sesame or peanut). They're eaten because they are sticky (so families stay together...although just like the west divorce is taking off in China!), because they are sweet (so the new year will be sweet -so similar to Jewsih tradition!) and because they are round, and today is also a full moon. It was also a night to finish off those firecrackers and fireworks.
Watching from the appartment its all quite pretty. But walking around outside you see crazy people setting off fireworks from 16 floor balconies, firing them over the top of roads and letting loose by bus stops. Its tough to concentrate enough just to walk, let alone drive! And then all that's left is a LOT of rubbish left over! Anyway, I can confidently say that the evil spirits were scared away and that (if the theory is true that the more fireworks you light, the more successful your year will be) everyone in Beijing will have a Happy New Year.
And I wish the same to you all too.