Spring Festival

Feb 2, 2012

Happy New Year: Karaoke time!

Let’s sing

Karaoke on New Year
More karaoke pictures here.

Karaoke New Year’s from Uncle Foreigner on Vimeo.

The night after they first invited me to celebrate the holiday with their family, Wendy and Xi Xi invited me again to their clan’s continuing New Year’s party. (Peter, again, was still recovering from his cold.)

After another great feast, we all went out for karaoke. It took some doing to find an open room; this is apparently what all families were doing that night. But eventually, after many phone calls and some driving around, we found an open spot. In addition to the singing, there was also a lot of dancing. You can see me, in the video below, dancing with Xi Xi’s uncle, the evening’s host. You can also hear some of the karaoke-ing going on. Make sure your volume’s not too high.

Jan 31, 2012

Spring is just around the corner

Even though it’s very cold

We’re smack in the middle of Chinese New Year — aka, Spring Festival — and while most people have returned to work, there’s still a party atmosphere in the city (and a ton of firecrackers). Today, also, was the first sunny day in a while. And, the weather is starting to get warmer.

All of this added up to: “Too nice to stay inside.” So we took our camera and got out there.

Accordion

A group of musicians giving an impromptu performance by the river.

We found a new bar! You can hear people doing karaoke in the background, of course.

Jan 24, 2012

Happy New Year: I ate goat and rabbit tonight

Spring Festival with friends

An healthy spread for Chinese New Year
More pictures of our New Year’s celebration!

Our neighbors Xi Xi and Wendy invited us to dinner tonight with their family - during Spring Festival (that’s what they call Chinese New Year), family members take turns hosting parties for their whole clan. Peter has been fighting a cold for the past few weeks, and it has not been responding well to travelling, going out and staying up late, so he’s trying out staying home and resting. But I’m not sick, so I went along.

It was a lot of fun. Wendy’s sister-in-law is also an English teacher, and everyone there spoke at least a little bit of English, so I had someone to talk to all night. Like usual, there were many toasts, and everyone was excited to try out their English on me.

The issue that’s a silly issue for me is that the Chinese eat a lot of meat, and they’re much more OK with whole-animal eating that Americans-in-general and me-specifically are comfortable with. I guess you could describe my diet as “very picky,” and it’s a different kind of thing to negotiate than Peter’s vegetarianism. There are some things that I don’t feel bad about turning down outright; offal, poultry feet (once, someone offered me “duck’s paw”) or anything super cartilage-y, brains … But other than that, I do feel obligated to try everything that’s offered. Which is part of the experience; I’ve had to choke down some meat of a texture I didn’t really enjoy (according to a Christmas-present Sichuan cookbook [thanks Lizzy and Jesse!], the local cuisine is all about textures that are pretty foreign to the American palate), but I’ve also tried some stuff that I really enjoyed. As the heading says, I ate rabbit tonight, and that’s something I’m getting to really like. The goat … it wasn’t baaaaad, but it’s not my favorite.

But, regardless, the night was a lot of fun, and it’s such a great privilege to be invited to a family gathering for such an important holiday.

Jan 23, 2012

The Nian Will Not Come Tonight

Happy Spring Festival!

01 Xin Nian Hao

(This is not camera noise in the video above. There are so many people setting off stuff that it’s just that loud.)

So, tonight is New Year’s Eve. From what we can gather, the entire holiday is observed for 15 days, but the real heavy lifting is done in the first three days.

We went to the grocery store this afternoon in the mind of buying three days’ worth of food, and we were glad we did. There was almost an end-of-the-world feel, or at least a battening of the hatches.

At about 6 pm, the fireworks started. These were not city-organised; we passed by several stores that had been specially converted for the season to sell crackers and heavier to anyone who wanted. We bought a pack of snappers for the equivalent of 20 cents.

As midnight approached, it got loud. According to wikipedia, the celebration of New Year’s started with frightening off a beast called the Nian with loud noise and the color red. I think we achieved our mission this year.

02 Xin Nian Hao