All posts tagged: culture

Saturday Feature: The School’s Christmas Tree

Let me tell you about the school’s Christmas tree. It was set up in the main shopping square of campus about a week ago, and the decision as to whether it’s a pretty sight to be seen or not, I’ll leave up to you. However, what’s most interesting about this Christmas tree is it’s decoration. At the time it is being set up it usually doesn’t have any decoration, but this usually changes very soon afterward as students start flocking around the tree and hang little cards and papers with wishes on the tree. Not quite the traditional Christmas tree decoration, but the same thing happens every year. So, instead of the Christmas tree, it becomes a “Wishing tree”! And if you look very closely, you might even catch a glimpse of Santa Clause! Merry Christmas then y’all!

Merry Christmas!

To all of you a very merry Christmas, pleasant holidays with your families with lots of peace and joy! Here in China, Christmas is quite a curious thing! First thing to note is the apple: everyone here associates apples with Christmas, thus Christmas is a heyday for fruit sellers! The reason? Part of the word “apple” in Chinese has the same character as “peace” which is part of the word “Christmas” in this language. Therefore apples are the most common gifts on Christmas! Secondly, as we are talking about gifts already, let me tell you how Christmas gift shopping works here in China. While in the West, everyone tries to get the Christmas gifts before the holidays, in China, the day of Christmas-gift-shopping is just that: on Christmas. So, on December 24, everyone rushes out in search for some nice little gifts and the streets and stores on campus go crazy, especially the later it gets in the day! For us Westerners, though, we get to celebrate with our friends, and so we get to …

Around Town: Christmas arrived!

It’s here! Yes, it has arrived even here: Christmas. Or at least the decoration. About a week ago they put up all the decorations on campus – lights on the two main roads, the big Christmas tree in the central shopping square, and along the road to the teacher’s building a lot of colored lights. Now, whether the decorations are pretty is another question altogether, but at least there is something, and that’s enough to be thankful for!

Food Corner: Christmas Banquet 2010

I haven’t told you much about our Christmas Banquet last Friday yet. Let me do so in today’s Food Corner. Well, after having had the same course of dishes for several years now, this year’s Christmas Banquet held a nice surprise. One of my American colleagues assisted in the kitchen and the result was a rather different banquet. Instead of squash soup with buttered bread buns, we enjoyed potato soup with bread that was baked with cheese and tomatoes. This was followed by a plate of various appetizers such as salads, sweet and sour chicken and meat with some kind of sauce, and yes, we also had cookies (I learned the cookies are a very typical side dish here in China!). The main course was mashed potatoes and pork with some steemed vegetables and our dinner was concluded with some sort of tiramisu. Aside from the fact that everything was cold by the time it got to us, it was quite an enjoyable dinner accompanied with the performances of lots of my colleagues, ranging anywhere …

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Winter Solstice Festival

I never got to tell you about the Dongzhi Festival (Winter Solstice Festival) or the Dumpling Day, as we commonly refer to it around here. Dongzhi literally means “arrival of winter” and it is one of the most important festivals in the Chinese calendar. It usually takes place on or around December 22, when the daylight is shortest and the nights longest. As with all the Chinese festivals, there are several traditional activities connected with the Dongzhi Festival: In the south of China, people traditionally make tangyuan (balls of glutinous rice) and eat them on this day. In the northern parts of China it is the dumplings that are made and eaten – thus our “Dumpling Day.” Ancestral worship is also part of the traditions observed on this day. At our school students usually get together with their classes at night and make dumplings which they will eat afterward. And in most cases those dumpling parties turn into huge flour battles among the students, resulting in everyone being covered in white at the time the …

Food Corner: Christmas Cookies

It’s about time to introduce you to a new section on my blog – the “Food Corner”. Many people think that China has all these weird foods and that living here must be quite a challenge. While it is true that people in China eat some things that Western people might find strange or even repulsive, most of the dishes I get to see on a day to day basis are plain delicious and very enjoyable. So, in the Food Corner, I’m hoping to do away with some of the misconceptions about Chinese food and show you what culinary treasures they really have to offer! First, however, I’ll start with a rather Western treat. It’s Christmas season after all, and since China doesn’t really celebrate Christmas (hence no Christmas foods/treats) for the next couple of weeks we’ll stay rather Western, before we dive into the secrets of Chinese cuisine. So, today … Let’s talk cookies! I started my first cookie baking venture of this season just the other day. Actually, to be honest, it wasn’t …

Places to Go: Xi’An – Terracotta Warriors

One of the sites China is most famous for is the Terracotta Army in Xi’An. In terms of historical and national significance, it ranks up there right together with the Great Wall. Now, there are people who have gone there and say that after all it’s quite a disappointing experience, since you can only see those warriors from afar, but I think visiting the terracotta army is still very impressive. There are several underground vaults, the first one holding 6000 terracotta figures of warriors and horses alone. Displayed, you will find soldiers of different ranks and purpose, anything from archers and horsemen to generals and other senior officers. Some are kneeling, while others are standing. Having been buried for more than 2000 years, it’s a fascinating spectacle: Each warrior was crafted with an individual face and appearance, the sculptors even paying attention to such details as the lines in the hands or the shoe prints, let alone all the intricate makings of each individual’s clothes. Rumor has it that if a manufacturer didn’t complete his …

Happy St. Nicolaus Day!

St. Nicolaus Day is not the kind of holiday anyone around here would know about. That, however, doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate it. Not that I really care about St. Nicolaus, but I like the presents that come with this day. Of course, I can’t expect any presents myself (nobody here knows about St. Nicolaus, remember?), but I still can have presents for others. So today, with the help of some of my students, I baked some cookies to give away to some of my friends. Now, it’s too late to give them to my friends in time for St. Nicolaus Day, but then – since no one really knows about it here anyways – who cares about such things as getting a present exactly on St. Nicolaus Day? I can give them their little gifts any other time, right?! Well then, happy St. Nicolaus Day!

Saturday Feature: Advent Wreath

Last Saturday I already introduced you to my new advent wreath. So, after it’s been set up and in use for a week now, I thought I’d tell you what happened whenever people saw it. Usually there are several responses, and in the last week I could see them repeated over and over each time I had visitors (and usually I have students and friends visit me every single day). #1 Response: Big “Ahs” and “Ohs” upon entering my living room and seeing the advent wreath (and all the other Christmas decorations). #2 Response: Sitting down/walking around it and admiring it from all different angles. #3 Response: Asking questions about it and its purpose/meaning. #4 Response: Taking it apart – lifting up the candles to be able to admire them better; closely examining each single piece of decoration (pine cones, bows, boxes, twigs, etc. – looks like most of them have never even seen a pine cone!). Can you tell an advent wreath is quite a curious thing around here? No one has ever heard …

December Special

December 1. has come and the countdown has started! Can you tell Christmas is my favorite season of the year? I just love sharing the joy of this season with my students and friends. And it’s the only season I actually put up decoration for. So, the last couple of days I busied myself with giving my home a nice comfy Christmas look, and I even made an advent calendar, to help me count the days until Christmas! Today I get to have my first treat – a piece of chocolate and some candy from Germany (thanks to some of my friends in Germany for that). Well then, a merry Christmas season to all friends near and far! Photos of my advent calendar: For a tutorial on how to make this advent calendar, click HERE. Christmas decoration: