by Silly Waimin
An account (lifted from an email to my parents) of what New Year in China is like.
|Today is Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival). To date I've seen fireworks in the hundreds, ducked and covered at least several dozen times, and watched people put out a fire in a nearby vacant lot from my porch. It was already a fire hazard in the waiting, so guess what? Chinese New Year's eve hits and there you go - errant spark causes a problem. Fortunately, they had it well in hand and I didn't know how else I would be able to provide help, so I simply watched just in case it got worse and I may actually have been useful.
I invited a Chinese friend over today and we made fajitas and meatball soup for dinner, then went out and shot off fireworks in the courtyard. Scariest. Experience. Of. My. Life. I feel a little ashamed of admitting that, but I have never felt such abject fear as I did standing in a circular dry fountain while children under thirteen threw off fireworks all around us. Granted, we had our own to share in the fun, but we were a hell of a lot more careful with them. I could just see one of the unanchored spinners flying straight into my face - thank god it didn't happen. Ears hurt though. Next time I'm bringing earplugs.
Fireworks have been going off all day. It seriously sounds like an invasion. For the Chinese, fireworks aren't just the pretty things that come with a side of loud noises. Fireworks can simply be loud noises (based on their ancient belief that loud noises and bright lights scare off the evil dragon Nian - that's why fireworks are so lucky). Someone set off the type that sounds like a battering of heavy artillery IN OUR HALLWAY. That's perfectly okay here, although it did make both Steven and I jump. The Chinese? They act almost as though they don't notice. We figured out why today. Setting of fireworks seems to largely be a thing for the young (think easter egg hunt, but with explosives!), so we saw many adolescent kids setting them off and parents escorting their toddlers (or younger) to set of fireworks together. After seeing that the explanation was simple. Their hearing is shot by age three.
However, it has been very fun and interesting. Now Steven (my boyfriend) and I are exhausted, probably due to having to converse in Chinese all evening. My friend doesn't speak a lick of English, so it was mostly her and I chatting and occasionally having to translate for Steven. Plus, out of courtesy, I translated just about everything Steven and I said to each other, so it was a lot of translating all night. Whew! It gets pretty exhausting after a few hours (and several large BOOMS right next to your ears).
Well, the ringing is hitting again. I do hope the fireworks will peter off somewhere around three in the morning....but I know better. I was here for the tail end of Spring Festival for the last year. Its going to be twenty four hours of explosives for the next two weeks.