Since two days we are having a New Year in China- the year of Goat (someone could say as well the year of sheep or ram, but let’s take it is the year of Goat :)). Since about two weeks everybody in China is moving to get to their homes for the new year and it is quite difficult to go somewhere as the tickets were sold out very fast. New Year’s preperation usually starts at the beginning of the month (this year- february) and it finishes in the middle of the next month (march), thus it takes about 40 days of ‘holidays’. Of course, people won’t have 40 days holidays from work but usually they get one to two weeks off from their work. This year the most important celebrations started from the 18th of february and will last till 24th of february.
For the celebration of the Chinese New Year I was invited to visit my Chinese friend’s home. Jade lives about three hours from Suzhou, in the city called Taizhou (泰州). Thus, right after my last classes on Wednesday 18th I took the bus to Taizhou and arrived to Jade’s house for last dinner in the previous year. Jade lives in a brand new Chinese house as one year ago her family had to move out from the old, traditional house because of the new constructions that were taking place near her previous home.
Why they are all in the coats? In this region (mostly from Shanghai to the South) all Chinese houses don’t have the heating system. There is only air condition but in the bedroom, not in the saloon. Thus, you can imagine that it is really quite cold inside the house and everybody is wearing their coats (sometimes during the winter it can snow so imagine how cold it can be in such a house!). However, all Chinese people are quite used to this. For me, it was a bit hard to get used to this cold so I had to drink lots of wine 😀
But let’s go back to the traditions of Chinese New Year…
On the 19th (first day on the New Year) people are visiting themselves right from the early morning. Together with Jade and her brother we went to see their family, we visited maybe 10 houses. What’s different is that the visit is very short, they just go to their family, they wish them good year (especially a lot of money) and they go to the other home. The tradition is that when the guests come to your house you give them the cigarette (for men) and sweets (for women and kids). If it’s your close family you can also give them a hongbao （红包）which literally means a red envelope where you put some money inside. What is very interesting is that all Chinese people during the first day of the New Year will wear new clothes and for the first breakfast of the New Year they will eat something sweet (for example some baozi -包子- kind of dumpling with sweet red bean. All these things is done in order to make their coming year sweet and with lots of money.