As an Indian student studying in China I was always astonished by the traditions of Chinese New Year and how the people of China celebrate it. Chinese New Year must be the most traditional festival in the world which is celebrated by the largest number of people. This makes the Chinese New Year very special. We have different types of New Years in India. The time of these New Years and the ways of celebrating them will be depending upon the geographical locations, religion of people, different calendars used and also the different languages spoken among the people. So the concept of whole country celebrating a common festival together like Chinese New Year is not a so familiar for the Indian people.
Chinese New Year gave me a lot of good memories and opportunities to know more about Chinese cultures and life style of people in the last three years of my college life in China. For me the first Chinese New Year in China wasn’t a big festival like thing. Maybe I was in China for a few months and not so familiar with this kind of festival atmosphere. The spring festival parties organised by the overseas educational college of our university for those overseas students who’re are still staying in China during the winter vacations was the only good time that I had during my first Chinese New Year. We played many games during the spring festival party, there was a dumpling making competition, performances by students and teaching staff, traditional Chinese dress Cheongsam Show by the teachers, Chinese calligraphy sections and also lucky draws. Every year we have this spring festival party in the university and the students participating for it increases every year. Which shows more and more students are willing to stay in China during spring festival and they are coming to celebrate the spring festival party with Chinese people.
But later I realised I should’ve been more careful during the New Year holidays. It was so hard when I found most of the supermarkets, vegetable markets and grocery shops near my university were closed for almost a week for the spring festival and I wasn’t prepared for such a long vacation. So my first Chinese New Year just passed giving me a few days of hard time and some enjoyable things together. We always learn from experiences, from the very next year I was well prepared to hibernate myself during the spring festival vacation. I bought the things I need before the vacation starts and managed to get those Taobao packages as early as possible so that I can avoid waiting for those during the whole vacation time. Xijin ferry is one among the famous tourist attraction in Zhenjiang. We used to go there after spring festival to watch the beautiful lantern show. The lanterns will be glowing for the whole night. There’ll be people from Zhenjiang and places far away from Zhenjiang came here to watch this lantern show.
Another good memories of Spring festival was the last two Chinese New Years that I celebrate with my Chinese parents in their hometown. It was during the spring of 2016 I started to try a traditional Chinese method of weight loss management in one of my Chinese parent’s relative’s shop even though it was unsuccessful for me because I couldn’t stick to the diet they asked me to follow but when I was going there for weight loss management section I get to know my Chinese mother. She used to come there often since the shop was belongs to her relative. This is how I get to know my Chinese family. Their kids were there always they were so happy to talk with me and we often go for shopping. This helped us to get closer to each other very quickly. From the very next year they invited me to join them when they are going to their hometown during Chinese New Year. It was a different experience from the way we celebrate New Year in India.
I took an eight hour car ride for the first time in China from Zhenjiang in Jiangsu province to Xinyang of Henan province. I got many informations during the journey from Zhenjiang to Xinyang. It was a new information for me that during the spring festival all roads are toll free and that’s the reason for the heavy traffic and everyone who’s having cars choose to go back to their hometown by road which is more comfortable while you think about the difficulties faced while buying a train or bus ticket during the Chinese new year days. For the first time in my life I experienced being in a traffic block for two hours in the middle of a bridge and not even a single vehicle could move. The people were just got out of the cars and having conversations and stretching by standing on the roads and sideways. I’ve never seen this kind of things back home.
Gushi is my Chinese parent’s hometown, which is a small town in Henan province where the life of the people is far different from that of people in Zhenjiang. So in the beginning I wasn’t feeling comfortable. But the people were really cheerful and they were really excited when they saw me in their town. Later I knew that I was the first foreigner to come to their village. They were very curious to talk with me and take photos with me. I was so happy how they were treating me. Later during the stay in Xinyang I got many chances to know more about the traditions of Chinese New Year. Some of them are similar to the New Year celebrations in India. Visiting the relatives houses with some gifts to pay a New Year call, family reunion dinners were all the members of family gather around the round table and eat together. The tradition of giving red packets to the younger generation is quite similar to India. The difference is only we don’t use red envelopes and give the money directly. Since Gushi was a town which is fire cracker shows was allowed. There was a lot of fire work present almost every day night and they were really beautiful.
I had a few chances to visit some of the relatives houses near Xinyang while my stay there. Those houses are really big and beautiful also well decorated with Spring Festival couplets and everything is red in colour. Most of these houses have their own agricultural fields, small fish ponds, poultry farms, pig farms in which the families grows fish, chicken, duck, pigs respectively also places to cultivate leafy vegetables so the ingredients they need for cooking food during the Chinese New Year they cultivate by themselves. Family reunion dinner was a great opportunity for me to taste different cuisines of China. I think Henan cuisine is bit spicier than my hometown dishes. Even though it’s very spicy I really liked the Henan cuisine’s delicious dishes. People spend a long time eating during the family reunion dinners because they talk with each other a lot and drink Chinese white wine. And there’ll be a lot of dishes to eat. Most of them are made up of different kinds of meat.
This year’s Chinese New Year celebrations have already began and so far I’ve attended two events. The first one was the usual spring festival party organised by the overseas educational college of Jiangsu University and the second one was in the local police station of Zhenjiang police department. We went there to join in their spring festival activity and know the customs of Chinese New Year such as cleaning the whole house before the spring festival and learn to write the Spring Festival couplets. Later they came to our apartment to paste those Spring Festival couplets on the doors.
Since this year’s Chinese New Year is coming let’s all get ready to celebrate it and I wish everyone a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year!
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