All posts tagged: culture

Tomb Sweeping Holiday

It’s a holiday here in China, and that means no classes today and tomorrow – as the school officially closes for a short vacation. Of course, students (and teachers alike) had to go to class on Saturday to make up for today’s classes, but at least that gives everyone three days in a row without school. The traditional Tomb Sweeping Day (where a large proportion of Chinese worships their ancestors) will take place tomorrow, and it usually is a pretty big deal locally, since our town is considered one of the cradles of Chinese civilization.

Around Town: Lantern Festival

Of course, with the Lantern Festival being the day, the highlight of all the fire cracking – when for one night everyone is going berserk with lighting fireworks – I had to make a little more effort than on the Chinese New Year’s Eve to get some better shots of the fireworks. Now, the town’s official fireworks show had just been canceled, due to the drought around here and the town officials’ decision to invest the money in watering the fields instead of blowing it up with the fireworks. So, the best shot I would have to get some good pictures – I figured – was the roof of the teacher’s flat. So, I grabbed my camera, positioned myself alongside some of my colleagues, and then I watched. And pressed the shutter, of course! Take a look yourself:

Lantern Festival

It marks the grand finale of the Spring Festival celebrations: the Lantern Festival. Each year on the fifteenth of the first month (according to the Chinese Calendar), the Spring Festival comes to an end with yet another day of fireworks, and special festivities. In fact, while the emphasis is on fire cracking in the beginning of Spring Festival, it is the great displays of fireworks and light-shows that characterize the Lantern Festival. Many towns organize big shows with glamorous fireworks and lantern parades (showing off uniquely shaped and decorated lanterns), while private citizens take advantage of the chance to fire up yet another array of fireworks in all shapes and sizes. The origins of the Lantern Festival are not quite certain, as there are numerous legends circulating with regards to how and why this festival first was implemented. Many of those legends commonly refer to events of where the setting up of lanterns and lighting of fireworks was done to prevent some destruction that was to come upon the people. In other instances, the day’s …

Food Corner: Egg & Tomato

One very popular dish around here is egg and tomato. It’s easy to make, and therefore very common in everyday cooking. The foreign faculty gets served egg and tomato several times a week. Basically, you take a couple of eggs and scramble them, but only so that they are just done (almost hardly done). Then you set them aside and take a couple of diced tomatoes that you fry in the same pan. Once they’re softened enough, you add the eggs again, and fry everything together for another moment. For seasoning you add salt and powder for chicken broth (very popular around here). That’s it. It’s something even I could pull off, and I can’t cook much Chinese at all.

Special: Happy (Chinese) New Year!

I hope you all had a good night’s sleep, for I certainly didn’t. Custom has it that around midnight (after the TV show has finished) everyone comes out and the fire-cracking/fireworks goes berserk for at least another hour. And then everyone has to get up really early the next morning, around 5 am, to wish their family members health and good luck for the new year, receive their presents (usually a red paper envelope with money that will be spent on clothes) and eat dumplings. All this is necessary to keep good luck for the new year. Anyways, right after that – also for good luck – everyone starts to fire up a new round of fire crackers. So, this morning, at 6 am sharp I woke up to a big whomm!!! that took place right in front of my window, and ever since then the constant whomm whomm has continued  and probably will go on for the next couple of days – at any given hour. Well, at least last night I was in …

Spring Festival

The most important holiday in China without question is Spring Festival – the Chinese New Year. It begins on the first day of the Chinese traditional calendar – which is usually some time between the end of January and the middle of February – and concludes on the 15th day with the Lantern Festival. Origin Many myths and traditions revolve around this holiday, the most prominent legends claiming that Spring Festival originated in the fight against a mythical beast that would come about this time of the year to devour whatever was in its way. In order to protect themselves, people offered food to the beast, until later they discovered that using the color red would frighten off the creature, as well as the noise of fire crackers. Hence, now, every year at Spring Festival, people paste red paper strips on their door posts, containing phrases of blessing and luck, and all throughout the season of the new year, fire crackers can be heard everywhere. Traditions Some of the most common traditions centered around the …

Special: New Year’s Eve

It’s here! The last day of the year. At least in these parts of the world. I can tell, because when I wanted to go for breakfast this morning, I found the door to my building locked – did I ever tell you that for Spring Festival everything shuts down in this country? Well, it happens. I mean, literally! Of course, I’m glad for the people, because for a large percentage of the Chinese the New Year’s holidays are the only time of the year they ever get off work for a couple of days. Some are not even that fortunate – as I discovered on my search for someone with a key this morning so I could go get my breakfast. Anyways, today is the big day, marking the official beginning of the New Year’s festivities. They will last about two weeks and will end at the 15th (Lunar calendar) with the Lantern festival. This means: more than two weeks of hearing fire crackers and fireworks going off all day long while someone out …

Saturday Feature: Countdown to the Festival

The countdown to Spring Festival has started. In less than a week the nation will welcome the Chinese New Year, and for that, lots of preparations have to be made. Chinese families make extra efforts to give their homes an extra thorough cleaning – to clean out all the “bad luck” from this past year. Stores and supermarkets are crowded with people buying presents and ingredients for the elaborate New Year’s meals – Spring Festival is very much about eating! Public transportation is bursting with travelers – more than any other time in the year – as most everyone is trying to return to their respective hometowns in order to spend the holidays with their families. Usually, traveling around Spring Festival is a nightmare – prices are much higher than usual, and trains and busses so full, that more often than not you won’t be able to get on a vehicle at all. Here around school, we can tell that the new year is around the corner, because in recent days it has become even …

Around Town: Getting Ready For Spring Festival

Spring Festival, the most important holiday in this nation, is just a few days away. And everywhere people are getting ready for the biggest event of the year. Here in town, streets are being lined with the obligatory red lanterns, and trees get decorated nicely with twinkle lights. It actually looks quite like it does at Christmas in other parts of the world. By the way, as we are speaking of Christmas already – look what I found just the other day when going into town for dinner: You are right! It’s a gingerbread house! The real deal. Saw it in the window of a restaurant and it did make me feel quite like Christmas. Did I ever mention that here in China no one really cares about whether it is the season or not to have Christmas decoration out!?

Happy New Year’s Eve

We’ve made it! The year 2010 is over and done with! I hope looking back, you don’t have too much to regret and a year full of great memories. My wish is that you all will have a nice time of celebrating tonight, too! Here in China, New Year’s isn’t that big of a deal, since the “real” new year’s celebrations will take place at Spring Festival. So, while in Germany at around midnight all hell breaks lose and fireworks shoot up everywhere, nothing much usually happens here. In fact, when some of my colleagues were trying to fire up some fireworks around midnight last year, they were stopped by some considerate school guards, telling them to discontinue, because it would disturb the students in their sleep! Luckily, we are living in the land where fireworks were invented (gunpowder). So, while in other places people are allowed to have fireworks only on New Year’s Eve, here in China, we usually can have them anytime, anywhere we want! Happy celebrating everywhere!