Chinese Lunar New Year 2008, Part 4 of 4

This one’s going up a little late, but I’ve been busy. My first Lunar New Year has come and gone and I feel confident I can sum it up for you, the foreigner.

Lunar New Year consists of:

  • eating Thanksgiving-sized meals twice a day for 3 or more days
  • drinking amounts of alcohol that would only be appropriate at a State School
  • giving hong bao to children (and me, this year at least, woo hah!)
  • going back to work after a one week vacation feeling not the least bit rested

I think it’s a good holiday. Particularly because Chinese people don’t have as many long holiday breaks as Americans do during which they can go home and be with their families. Is it any good if one is actually looking for a rest? Hell no. Vacation this is not. It’s a family holiday – and family holidays are *never* restful. Just ask Chevy Chase.

Chinese Lunar New Year 2008, Part 3 of 4

Friday, February 8th – Lunar New Year’s Day + 1

After sleeping off the second day of partying at 2nd Uncle’s we packed up our stuff in the morning and headed over to Lao Ye’s apartment – Ma Li’s maternal grandfather. We arrived just after noon and soon settled down to yet another tremendous assortment of dishes for lunch. Ma Li’s eldest aunt and her family were in attendance, the only part of the Li Clan we had not yet seen this New Year’s holiday.

Continue reading Chinese Lunar New Year 2008, Part 3 of 4

Chinese Lunar New Year 2008, Part 2 of 4

Thursday, February 7th – Lunar New Year’s Day

After the big party on LNY’s eve we needed to rest up a bit before the next round of debauchery. Ma Li and I spent the night at 2nd Uncle’s apartment and then lazed around until about 2 or 3pm before packing up and heading over to Lao Ye’s apartment with her mother. Lao Ye means “maternal grandfather” in Chinese, as opposed to Ye Ye, her paternal grandfather. Anyhow, we made it to Lao Ye’s around 3:30 and then it was time for another round of welcomes, long time no see’s, and introductions to still more members of the extended family. This time there was a whole new family for me to meet – Ma Li’s mother’s first cousin and his wife and son were there. I may have said it before, but in China one interesting result of the One Child Policy is that all first cousins are essentially considered to be brothers and sisters, and all distant cousins are never considered to be anything further than first cousins. Thus, I was introduced to this 2nd cousin of Ma Li’s as his soon-to-be older brother-in-law, and he was introduced to me as my soon to be younger-brother-in-law, and that was that!

Continue reading Chinese Lunar New Year 2008, Part 2 of 4

Chinese Lunar New Year 2008, Part 1 of 4

In a departure from the usually polished content found on Drew’s Journal (smirk), I will be recording our adventures on the fly day-by-day.

Introduction

If you think Christmas is big, it’s got nothing on Lunar New Year. In a country of 1.3 billion people, 300 million take to the rails, roads, and skies to head home for several weeks of much needed rest with their loved ones. China’s developing economy still hasn’t found time to embrace Western standards of vacation. Most of the workers heading home for LNY are migrants – they toil a dozen hours a day or more in the pits (literally) of China’s wealthiest cities to erect skyscrapers and condominiums they could never hope to live in. For 2 weeks, starting today – February 5th – those people finally get a chance to return home and see their families in far-flung & impoverished corners of the Middle Kingdom. The most populous country in the world grinds to a halt. What are all these inscrutable Chinese up to during this brief lull in their efforts to dominate the world? Eating jiaozi (dumplings), drinking, and setting off an un-fucking-believable amount of fireworks… for two weeks.

Continue reading Chinese Lunar New Year 2008, Part 1 of 4