Friday, February 26, 2010

Chinese New Year - still celebrating!

We're nearly there! After all the build up and excitement before February 14th, the start of the Chinese New Year, it will soon be day 15, which marks the official end of the "tiger" celebrations.

And thank goodness. No more paying high prices for vegetables and fruit. No more dumpling making and dumpling dinners. No more crowding in the parks to see the temple fairs, and 50 yuan (7USD) charges if you want to park your car nearby.
No more deafening fireworks and firecrackers which keep you up after midnight or wake you up at dawn (especially on the fifth day, 'po wu', when it seemed everyone rushed out to be the first to get up and let off fireworks in the early moming!). No more forgetting what the date is since during this period we count the days starting from February 14th, which is 'chu yi' or '1st day of the month'.

Of course it has been fun in many ways.

We decorated our flat with papercuts and flowers, including fragrant narcissus which have bloomed throughout the holiday.
It was a good time for me to get together with my family, not just brothers and sisters, but also uncles, aunts, cousins and their children and children's children, who call me 'yeye' or grandad! Each kid was particularly excited to see me and other relatives because each one expected a 'hongbao' or red packet with money.
Thank goodness each family only has one child! I don't mind because one day when I really look like a grandad they will be giving me 'hongbao'!

There was time to play cards with friends and relatives. Driving around was a pleasure with few cars on the road, except near each temple fair.
You can see some interesting things at the temple fairs, some even get up your nose! The shopping malls were all open and decorated with lots of red colour.
I bought a new hat to welcome the spring - don't I look cool, haha (but it doesn't match my new coat I showed you last month)! And of course, when it was too cold to go out, there was lots of TV, and lots of repeats of old and new spring festival gala shows.

For those of you who like numbers, here are some taken from the "Global Times":

90 � number of fires caused by fireworks from New Year's Eve to the fifth day of the Spring Festival
347 � number of injuries caused by the fires
960 � number of cameras in Beijing's 11 parks watching out for firework accidents
2,200 � number of security guards prepared to prevent firework accidents in Beijing's 11 parks
79.69 tons � firecracker remains cleaned up on the morning of Near Year's Day
730,000 � number of police sent out to prevent accidents and control fireworks on Feb 18, the fifth day of the Spring Festival
200,000 � number of people returning to Beijing on Feb 18
1,500 � number of trays of dumplings sold by Huifeng Traditional Beijing Restaurant on Feb 18
300,000 yuan � turnover in one day at Gushengli Barbecue, Ditan Temple Fair during the first five days of the Festival
35.9% � sales increase in Beijing's restaurants on Spring Festival eve
621 � number of ambulances sent out on Feb 13 and Feb 14
563 � number of emergency medical technicians travelling around to give medical treatment on Feb 13 to 14
288 � number of injures caused in total on Feb 13 and Feb 14
Temple fairs
25,000 � number of visitors Ditan temple fair welcomed on Feb 13, the first day it opened
66,000 � number of visitors Changdian temple fair welcomed on Feb 14, the first day it opened
80,000 � number of tourists attending Chaoyang Park International Temple Fair on Feb 15
50,000 � number of visitors Shijingshan Temple Fair welcomed on Feb 15
Tourist attractions
166,500 � number of visitors Beijing's 19 most important tourist attractions welcomed on the first day of the Spring Festival
60,000 � number of pilgrims visiting the Lama Temple on Feb 14

Feb 28th marks the Lantern Festival (and further eating, this time of round dumplings called yuanxiao).
Wouldn't you like to taste those delicious balls (made of glutinous rice powder with a sweet filling)? I can save some for your next visit, if you like.

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