Spring Blossoms

Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, January 30 - Spring Blossoms - As I said before, Chinese New Year is called “Spring Festival” in China. This is perfect for the region we are in, as many of the flowering trees have buds or blooms, but I’m not so sure about northern China…it’s always very cold there during Spring Festival! The flower picture on the bottom is a peach blossom; when I walked by the lake today, there were quite a few trees just starting to bloom. The tree in the center top photo is an artificial peach tree on display at our local shopping plaza. The two side photos, I believe, represent cherry blossoms, the left is plastic beads and cotton with a lotion display at the grocery store, and on the left is an ad in the McDonalds window. Blossoms are important for Chinese New Year because if there are no flowers, there will be no fruit, so, they indicate growth. And did you notice that they are all PINK! Peach blossoms also symbolize romance. Different blossoms have different meanings, and their fruit have additional meanings. I found one place that said you should never show one single blossom in a painting/picture because it indicated early death! Hopefully I won’t offend my Chinese friends with this lone blossom! At least there is a bud next to it :-)

Lion Dancers

Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, January 29 - We went to a Chinese New Year party at a Mexican Restaurant and they had some lion dancers performing. Lion dancers need a good amount of space, so they couldn’t do much in a restaurant, but it was fun to have them so close, and they did more just outside the front door. Lion dancers are a big part of Chinese New Year, as the dances are traditionally done to scare away evil spirits. There are many details about them, too many to list here! If you are interested in learning about the lion dancers, this is a great video explaining about the costume parts and how they work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rKcXN_axqE
Here is a slideshow of some lion dancers from a performance we saw last year: http://www.smilebox.com/playBlog/4e4449784d4451304e544d3d0d0a&blogview=true
Photo credit to Leah — at El Calliente, Dongguan, Guangdong, China.

Red Clothing

Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, January 28 - The traditional belief of the Chinese is that during the year of your zodiac sign, you will have bad luck…. But, you can wear red all year to change this! As you should know by now, red is THE color for everything lucky during Chinese New Year! In modern times, many people no longer believe as strongly in the traditional beliefs, but this one is fun :-) Luckily, red looks great on Chinese people, and, if they get tired of wearing red clothes every day, hopefully they have their red undergarments, socks, or jewelry. The key to these red items changing bad luck to good, is that someone else buys them for you; It doesn’t work if you buy them for yourself! The upcoming year will be the year of the Monkey, so, if you are close to a monkey, join in the Chinese celebrations and buy them some red underwear!
Years of the Monkey: Feb.20,1920-Feb.7,1921, Feb.6,1932-Jan.25,1933, Jan.25,1944-Feb.12,1945, Feb.12,1956-Jan.30,1957, Jan.30,1968-Feb.16,1969, Feb.16,1980-Feb.4,1981, Feb.4,1992-Jan.22,1993, Jan.22,2004-Feb.8,2005

Fruit Trees for CNY

Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, January 27 - Oranges, tangerines, and kumquats are popular decorations at Chinese New Year for a couple of reasons. First, their color is associated with gold, therefore representing abundance and wealth. Second, their names in Chinese sound similar to the words for “luck” and “wealth.” Orange trees are grown in pots especially for display in, or outside of homes and businesses at Chinese New Year, or to be used as gifts. They are often decorated with red envelopes and small lantern decorations. Because these are grown quickly with large amounts of fertilizers, it is not recommended to eat the oranges grown on these decorative trees. We have a small park area within our housing community where there are orange trees growing, and it seems that people have been enjoying the oranges!

Getting a Haircut

Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, January 26 - Getting a haircut in China is very enjoyable: You lie flat on a table, and while getting your hair washed, with lots of suds, you also get a nice scalp, neck, and upper back massage, lasting about 10 minutes. I pay an extra 25rmb/about $4usd, to have a special ginger hair treatment, which makes my scalp tingle like crazy, but feels good, and gets me another 5 mins of scalp massage :-)  Then you get a 10 minute arm, hand, shoulder and back massage, and finally, you are ready for your haircut! In this picture, there is another table on the other side of me, plus 6 on the other side of the room. This is an upscale salon, and to have a senior stylist do my haircut and blow dry, I pay 132rmb/about $20usd, with a VIP card. Standard salons are much lower priced. Thanks to Leah for taking the picture.

Snoopy

Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, January 25 - Snoopy, called 史努比Shǐ nǔ bǐ (pronounced kind of like “sure new bee”) in Mandarin Chinese, continues to be popular in China. It seems that just like in the USA, he’s kind of a classic! I have seen special Snoopy stores, clothes for adults and children, all kinds of pens, pencils, notebooks, toys, decorations, etc, and there is a Charlie Brown restaurant in Hong Kong! And…as you can see by these stickers, Snoopy doesn’t miss out on the Chinese New Year celebration either! If you’ve been following my posts, can you recognize the hongbao, yuanbao, ancient coins, and scrolls (one side of a couplet)?

Electric Hot Water Bottles

Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, January 24 - We are currently having extremely cold temperatures for our area. We have heat in our apartment, so we’re not bad, although apartments with thick concrete walls do get really cold! However, many people in south China have no heat at all and I KNOW they are freezing right now! Our normal low in winter is about 10°C/50°F, and today we had snow, sleet and hail, so you know it was MUCH colder! I think my most valuable possession on cold days, other than my teacup, is my electric hot water bottle, especially the one with the hand warmer pocket. In China, you can even get them with cute animal designs :-) I LOVE mine and even take it to bed with me on cold nights. If you decide to try one, be sure to purchase from a reputable shop, as there are some safety concerns.

Herbal Tea

Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, January 23 - Last night, Jim brought home three cans of “liang cha,” or herbal tea, which people had given him throughout the day at work. This is a very popular drink in China, and because of the cans being red with yellow writing, and the meaning of the names, it becomes especially popular at Chinese New Year. There are two brands, basically the same drink. “Wanglaoji” means “King Old Luck,” and “Jia Duo Bao,” or JDB, means “Add More Treasure.” It is supposed to be good for sore throat and dryness in winter, and helping your body handle the heat in summer. The ingredients are water, white sugar (LOTS of it!), herbal jelly, plumeria, chrysanthemum, honeysuckle, common self-heal, licorice root and microcos leaf. I like the taste, but don’t drink it too often because of all the sugar! My thanks to Leah today for her help with translations, and to Peanut for helping to make the picture more interesting :-)