Yes I know its February, but according to the lunar Chinese calendar, 2016 began on February 8th. Chinese New Year is a Chinese festival known around the world for a variety of reasons. The festival, also known as Spring Festival or 春节, runs from the first new moon of the lunar calendar until the Lantern Festival which occurs on the 15th day of the first month. Festival traditions typically revolve around family and include things such as large meals, gifts, and lots and lots of fireworks. In Beijing, around 15 million people (usually migrant workers) return home to their families in the rural provinces leaving the city relatively peaceful for the other 6 million citizens. Restaurants close their doors and the daily sounds of a bustling city are replaced with the thunderous echo of fireworks being set off around every corner.
For the students of IES Abroad Beijing, our New Year’s Eve was spent with two homestay families who were kind enough to open their homes up to us. They provided us with delicious home cooked meals, a look into a typical Chinese home during Spring Festival, and a few lessons on how to make proper dumplings! Following dinner, some of us hit the streets outside of campus to join the chaos that ensued as midnight arrived. I have never witnessed so many fireworks in one place. From midnight to sunrise the next day, the aqi (air quality index) climbed from around 50 to well over 500 all because of the thrilling amount of fireworks that were set off. Even today, three days later, there are still fireworks being set off to bring in year of the monkey. On the third day of the Spring Festival, our group got to experience another New Year tradition, Beijing Temple Fairs. We visited one of the biggest and most popular temple fairs located at Ditan Park. Here we saw multiple performances demonstrating traditional Chinese Culture while learning how to maneuver Chinese crowds.
Chinese New Year is an unbelievable experience where one can see a rapidly evolving China return to its roots in order to celebrate one of its most fundamental holidays untouched by outside influence.
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<p>My name is Brandon Berardo and I am a junior from Wofford College. Through my travels abroad, I have discovered that there is so much to see. People say that pictures are worth a thousand words, but I am hoping that some of my pictures will leave you speechless.</p>