Hi, I’m China and I like to blow shit up

As a foreigner, it’s impossible to live in China for any length of time and not develop some sort of Chinese New Year strategy.

Most, the rich and clever ones at least, leave the country. Getting the frack out well before the world’s largest human migration takes place and starts blowing shit up is ideal, but simply not practical for everyone – particularly those of us who have spouses that get all warm and fuzzy around the holiday.

Chinese New Year is, for all intents and purposes, the Christmas of the East. Warm familial gathers, gifts, crowded malls, last-minute shopping, celebration of myths, and food – lots and lots of food.

The biggest difference is the god damn fireworks. Y’know how annoying it is to walk into a store on the 26th of December for some afternoon shopping and hear Jingle Bells for a ninety billionth time? Well, it’s just like that – but instead of a shop it’s your home, instead of the afternoon it’s somewhere between 12am and 6am and instead of the muzakiriffic carol it is explosions that put the Bombing of Baghdad to shame.

This being the fifth Spring Festival I’ve endured celebrated, I had hoped that the whole thing wouldn’t phase me. My lack of sleep and frayed nerves are evidence that I was wrong.

Chinese New Year’s Eve this past Sunday night was, however, quite excellent. Our friends Mark and Lyndal came over and Maggie cooked us up a feast of Chinese food. After dinner some more friends joined us and we had a few drinks before we headed downtown to buy explosives of questionable quality and drink some more – an activity that anywhere else would be illegal for its rather obvious conflict with public safety.

We hit up the Shamrock, as it’s been ages since I’ve been downtown, and I tend to gravitate towards places familiar. Last year I also celebrated CNY eve at the Shamrock, and it was strikingly quieter this year – people-wise at least. I’m not sure if its the tighter economic situation or the winds of favour have shifted a bit since I used to be a regular down there.

After midnight, and the cacophony of fireworks, we lit some sparklers that were quickly scooped up by the little beggar kids who would swing them around and shout out “gei wo money, gei wo money”.

A quick video, playing with YouTube’s annotations, showing the Zero Hour

Today is, allegedly (as I’ve not found any solid references to it online), “Second Chinese New Year”. Second Chinese New Year falls five days after the First Chinese New Year, which itself happens a week after “Small Chinese New Year”, and 10 days before the Lantern Festival. I think someone needs to enter a 12-step program for EA – exploders anonymous – “Hi, I’m China and I like to blow shit up.”

Some photos

Here are a few photos from Chinese New Year’s Eve down on Shiquan Jie outside the Shamrock:

6 Responses

  1. Hi, I’m Chris, and I like China because China shares my like of blowing shit up.

    Yeah, Spring Festival was a bit of a drag before I acquired family here, but these days I love it. I mean, this year my mother in law bought me two crates of beer and a small arsenal, and my father in law and I demonstrated our awesomely finely-honed teamwork in blowing shit up, and various extended in-laws contributed more beer and baijiu, and Ma and my wife cooked up an awesome meal for New Year’s Eve, and various rellies contributed more culinary goodness, and yes, certain of the more malevolent cousins conspired to get me pissed, and I do not necessarily like all of the extended in-laws we had to visit, but on the whole I had a good time.

    Yeah, I dislike what Christmas seems to have mutated into but probably always was, and there’s a lot about Spring Festival I could do without, but there are certain things about the holiday that are just plain cool.

    I recommend spending next Spring Festival holed up at your in-laws’ place.

  2. @Chris: Actually read your account of spring festival earlier today – it’s cool you and your father-in-law have a good “he selects and places/I light” system down… blowing shit up is (though a linguistic irony) bonding like no other.

    I’ve spent parts with the inlaws before, and quite enjoyed it – but it’s difficult for me to be away from work/Internet for so long (they’ve only recently stepped into the world of DVDs – we’re still a few years away from getting them online!).

    Still, perhaps next year we’ll head up to Jinzhou for the whole holiday and have a proper Chinacrimbo.

  3. I do enjoy watching the free fireworks show…but it does get old after more than a week. I don’t remember this happening the previous years I celebrated in China…but maybe I had more to drink in those years.

  4. I remember that festival…and not sleeping…and god, the fireworks that never ended…

    But it was also one of the best festivals I’ve ever spent with family. Happy-sort-of-belated-but-not-exactly Chinese New Year(s), Ge Ge!

  5. Pingback: Meet Nasal Nemesis Norm: Part 1 | Adventures By Design

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *