February 13, 2010-February 14, 2010
13.02.2010 - 14.02.2010 -14 °C
On the eve of Chinese New Year, I had a large celebration with my family. I woke up around 9 in the morning and was dressed in a T-shirt and black sweatpants. Apparently, no one else dressed up either.
In the afternoon, my host parents bought posters to decorate the doors and walls. The colors red and gold were everywhere and they symbolize happiness and good fortune. This year is the year of the Tiger. Already, I feel like the New Year is such a blessing because as I was writing my diary that afternoon, I saw fireworks right outside my window. It was a small fantastical show, and definitely one that I would never have seen in America. Those fireworks were only a part of the explosions and sounds that went on throughout the day. My cousin taped the word Fu (福), which means fortune and luck, upside-down on the window. We turn it upside because of a play on the word. When the Fu is upside-down(倒), it has the same pronunciation as the word arrive( 到). Therefore, it means fortune and luck has arrived.
In the early afternoon, I saw a part of the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony. I am extremely lucky to watch the Olympics when everyone else is at school in America. Gina also returns to school on Feb. 22nd. Not only have I felt that the New Year and its events are aligned in my favor, but I have gained an immense sense of gratitude.
I am excited to have celebrated Chinese New Year in my motherland. Finally, I have come to China at one of its liveliest times and had a great cultural experience. The numbers of family members grew from five to fifteen. At the dinner table, we had to pull another table up to fit everyone. Sprite, Coke, Harbin Beer, and white wine were found at the table as well as a mountain of chopsticks and a skyscraper made of bowls. However, you wouldn’t have found rice at our table. With all that meat, vegetables, and seafood, the rice would only have filled up your stomach that left no room for the goodies. Us kids gave our warm thanks and wished everyone the best in the New Year. I spoke in English while Gina translated. When I finished, I translated for Gina. My host mom was the last to speak. She added more praise to me and expressed how lucky she was to have me as one of her daughters.
Immediately, I felt this was a flashback to the Mid-autumn Festival. The Mid-autumn Festival, which is similar to Thanksgiving, helped me appreciate my host family because they had taken me to see their hometown. They never had to show me their roots, but they wanted to give me the cultural experience from their point of view. I am especially lucky to have my host family to appreciate me and love me very much, especially my host mom. She never minds driving me into the city so that I can see my friends or join an activity. Not only have the five family members taken care of me, but my host relatives make a great support system. I can visit the eldest aunt to wait for my host mom to come and pick me up. The second eldest aunt took care of me when my host grandparents were in the province Szechwan. Lastly, I met my youngest aunt beginning February 12. She never ceases to praise me and takes good care of me as well—asking if I want to eat some fruits, attentively listens to when I describe my real family, and remarking such maturity I possess. These aunts plus my host mom makes the Four Sisters. They will always have a tight-knit relationship.
I might not always feel like a significant member in the family, but at the Chinese New Year Eve’s dinner, I was truly proud to be me. In the evening, we watched the Evening Ceremony, which is something traditional for all Chinese families. I could understand some of the skits but humor isn’t something easy to pick up from another’s language. At the conclusion of the Year of the Ox and the beginning of the Year of the Tiger—we set off fireworks.
After 11 p.m., I went outside to light fireworks. It was my first time anywhere near fireworks and I was very excited. I spent most of my time taking pictures, but then I got to set off rockets. Li Nan, my cousin from Japan, would aim her rockets at us or at our house. I mostly took pictures, but I got to light firecrackers and sparklers. Despite the cold, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. At 2 a.m., I was given my red envelope, which contains money given to children and teens by their elders. I got 200 Yuan from my mom. The next morning, my grandma gave me 100 Yuan. I called my real grandparents and relatives and wished them a Happy New Year.
I didn’t sleep until 5 a.m. that morning because I was playing a Chinese card game called Dui Zhu (对驻). One team needs to reach at least 40 points whereas the other tries to stop them. If the team gets 40 points, then they become the defense team. When you begin, the set of 3 is the second strongest cards, second to the Jokers. If the defense team keeps winning, then the second strongest cards increase to the set of 4, and so on.
Chinese New Year exhausted me because I was up since 7:40 and tackled many TV shows such as China’s famous comedian Zhao Ben Shan (赵本山). The next three days after Chinese New Year are just as important. Therefore, I have been spending time with my family. I played Majiang, a famous Chinese gambling game, and watched plenty of tv.
For the past four days, I haven’t gone a day without hearing fireworks. Last night at midnight, someone had given a large fireworks performance. It startled me and I couldn’t sleep until 12:45 a.m.