Fireworks for 12 hours, now THAT’S a show!

Dallen Hansen – Traditions Field Note: 29 April 2013

I love fireworks, but after hearing them constantly for an entire night, and on and off for two weeks, I was ready for some quiet!


Chinese New Year is a big deal for Chinese people.  Every Chinese house I’ve been in has a clock that has the Jan.-Dec. Gregorian Calendar date and time, and a clock that has the lunar calendar date and time.  The Gregorian Calendar is a solar calendar that we use in the Western countries.  That means the calendar dates are decided by what heavenly body?  Chinese New Year is decided by the lunar calendar.  That means the calendar dates are decided by what other heavenly body?  Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is a time for reunion and celebration in China.

What tradition did I learn about?

As the New Year’s celebration approaches, the Chinese get busy! We learned about the traditions of decorating doorways and common areas for good luck, cleaning the house to make room for all the incoming good luck, giving gifts, and getting together as family and friends to celebrate and reunite.

Why does the community have this tradition?

Doorways are decorated with red paper that say different things like, “gong xi.”  People say gong xi to each other to congratulate each other.  It’s really common around Chinese New Year.  My teacher at school said it is also used when people have babies.  Children are really important here in China, especially because families can only have one.  Does that help you understand how important Chinese New Year is? People use that phrase of gong xi very sparingly, because it’s so special. Sometime people say, “gong xi ni f acai” as well.  It’s like the long version of gong xi.  It means, “Congratulations, you make a fortune.”  It’s a way to wish prosperity and wealth for the person they are saying it to.  Money is important in China, and giving gifts is a big part of that.

Part of gift-giving during the Spring Festival involves giving red envelopes with money to friends.  The money is called “lucky money.”  Luck and fortune play big roles in China, and people always want more of both!

Is this tradition connected to its environment? How?

Yes!  The Chinese care a lot about the lunar calendar, and plan their lives really closely around its movements.  Our friends recently moved, but they consulted a lunar expert first to tell them the best day to move to have the most luck and prosperity in their new house.  So, you can imagine how important a holiday based on celebrating a new lunar year is to the Chinese.  Everyone has fireworks, and for two weeks before the actual day of the new year, people are setting off fireworks pretty often.  When the Chinese New Year day finally comes, people start lighting off fireworks constantly and the fireworks last about 12 hours straight!  I attached a video for you guys of us standing right in the middle of all the fireworks!  It’s really overwhelming!

That’s all I have this week!  It was great seeing you guys in person on Skype, and Rachael and I are excited for the next time we get to talk.  Get your great questions ready now! Zai jian!

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