Foreigners living in Hangzhou are looking forward to the Spring Festival partly because they have seen many images of colorful dragon dances, red lanterns and firecrackers. However, when I asked my friends, who are mostly in their 20s and 30s, about Spring Festival and how they spend it, they looked at me with surprise. Most of the responses were 'eat lots of food, watch TV, sleep a lot, eat leftovers and visit relatives. It also costs a lot of money and it's not so interesting; I wish I could go on holiday.' Hearing this I felt a little bit disappointed as actually that sounds a lot like the modern Christmas.
I'm glad though that some of my friends have a more positive outlook and they told me that in the large cities young people are just looking forward to having a rest and don't care so much about the traditions related to Spring Festival. Actually, when they were younger everybody really looked forward to it but now people can buy new clothes and eat good food anytime so they don't care so much about the festival.
I've already spent Spring Festival in China with a Chinese family and realized that actually the best thing is being with relatives and experiencing their warmth and kindness. Also, finding out the traditional customs makes it more meaningful, like putting Spring Festival couplets on my door. By taking part in the customs I also managed to solve several mysteries many foreigners wonder about. Many people put the character 'fu' meaning good fortune on their door but many stick the character upside down which I thought might be a mistake. I felt silly when I found out that actually people do this deliberately because then you can say 'fu dao le' which also sounds like 'good fortune has arrived'.
Other mysteries are why people do so much cleaning at that time. Again my friends explained that actually the Spring Festival is mainly to do with getting rid of the old and welcoming in the new. Also, many things are related to the wish for good fortune, take the decorations and the tradition of eating fish, as this makes people think of the saying 'nian nian you yu', which means 'may there be surpluses every year'. Also, I was glad to learn that so many firecrackers are let off not because Chinese people are noisy but because it was traditionally thought to scare away a monster called 'Nian'. Learning all this has made me realize that the Spring Festival is fun and full of meaning and I'm looking forward to it this year.
By Arthur J (from UK)
Source: City Express