One of my favourite aspects of living abroad is enjoying the local culture first hand. Currently living in Beijing, I have been fortunate to enjoy the New Year celebrations on several occasions. If the fireworks are any indication, the Year of the Horse is kicking off to be a great year.
At any given moment you will hear bangs and pops as fireworks, and firecrackers, are set off by festive locals. This can easily go on for up to two weeks and are some of the best firework displays I have ever seen.
Being Canadian, all firework shows are basically sanctioned by the town or city. Which usually results in a nice display, but the whole town has to venture out and congregate at a designated location in order to witness them. Then, after about 20 to 40 minutes, you all head back home. Not in China. Every citizen of all ages purchases their own fireworks, and at any time just relocates to the streets near their home and sets them off, which gives the holiday a great sense of camaraderie.
Whole communities come together in a way that is quite special, and increasingly forgotten in the West, and ring in the holiday together. You can walk down the street, look in any direction, and see multi-coloured explosions painting the night as far as the eye can see.
On top of that, there is plenty to be seen during the daytime as well. Re-enactments of historical, and mythical, tales can be found at various parks and other public places throughout most cities. The parks will also have various arrangements made for traditional foods and games, providing an endless amount of fun, and an endless opportunity to really take in a culture. For a more modern experience, you will always find live talent to see, which can include, famous musical acts, comedians, and film stars. Jackie Chan himself has been frequent at Beijing performances.
You can learn a lot more about the Chinese New Year on the most recent episode of The TEFLCast, the world’s #1 podcast channel for English teachers, but for now, enjoy the video below. Have you had any great experiences during a foreign cultures holiday? Let us know all about it in the comments, and Happy New Year!