In China, that would be Spring Festival (also called Chinese New Year). It could also be called the Great Migration, as that’s literally what happens as everyone goes home for the holidays. I read a statistic the other day that said more people travel during this time of the year in China than anywhere else in the world/any other time of the year. It is the world’s greatest migration.
Just like any major holiday in the USA, the celebration centers mostly around the food. Jiaozui to be exact. It is a little dumpling filled traditionaly with ground pork and chopped leek (but other fillings are also common), that is boiled and eaten with vinegar. Though the leek isn’t my favorite filling, a lot of Jiaozui is really good. And, you eat lots of it during this time of year! We’ve had at least 4 meals of primarily Jiaozui in the last few weeks, and if we were in a Chinese family, it would be a lot more!
The main day of the holiday — New Year’s Day (based on the Lunar calendar) — was Feb. 7. But the festivities last for almost the whole month of February. Traditionally people eat lots of Jiaozui, visit with friends and family, and light off LOTS of firecrackers and fireworks (mostly for fun, though traditionally it is done to scare away the “evil spirits” from the upcoming year). Seriously, folks, it is like a war zone here with fireworks going off at all times of the day/night. For those of you who are pyromaniacs — you’d love it here! You can buy fireworks on the street (and shoot them off on the street) that would be reserved for the 4th of July Celebration on the National Mall in DC. We’re talking the big ones!! Though, it seems the perennial favorite is the classic firecracker… called, appropriately, in Chinese “Pow Pow.”
One downside to the holiday this year (which you might of heard about already because it did make international news) was the travel snarls. There were severe snowstorms in South and Central China (didn’t really affect us in Beijing, other than driving up the cost of produce) which severely interrupted travel. The result was this scene at train stations, and tons of people who were unable to get home for the holidays. (Mostly migrant workers for whom this is the only time of year they could travel.)
Makes Christmas scenes at US airports look like a cakewalk.
On a happier note, I posted some more picturs on Flickr of the kids making Jiaozui for the foster home’s New Year party. Enjoy!
And Happy New Year!