Spring Festival Food

Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) is the biggest and most important holiday in China. It’s usually during our winter vacation, somewhere near the end of January towards the beginning of February. Well, that can’t be said for sure, because it’s different every year. Sometimes it’s at the end of January, sometimes at the beginning of February… I think it has to do with the moon or something. Please correct me if I’m wrong. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve been living in China for three years now, and I still don’t know anything about this. 

We arrived at my friend’s house at night. I had no idea what to say to her parents in Chinese to thank them for opening their home to me for five days. It kind of sent me into a slight panic. Didn’t want to offend anyone. My friendship with her means a lot to me. Juliet and I met last year, she was one of my basic English students. She’s a good student, but she still speaks Chinglish. Like most Chinese, she thinks taking classes twice a week for 90 minutes is enough to turn her into an American. It doesn’t work that way.

My first Spring Festival dinner was a delicious one. Juliet’s father is an excellent cook.

… But I had no idea they ate so much during this time of year!

I guess in many ways, Spring Festival is the Chinese Christmas. They go from house to house, giving money to their relatives, drink a lot of alcohol, hand out and smoke so many cigarettes, I’m convinced cancer will be the leading cause of death in China. Seriously, I have never smoked so many cigarettes in my entire life!

Happy New Year! 新年快乐!Here’s some cancer for you!

This really surprised me! My friend’s husband had cartons upon cartons of cigarettes. For a second I wondered if we were going to her parents’ house or to visit someone in jail.

It was an amazing experience. I’m grateful I had this front seat to this Chinese custom. But what irritated me, was the abuse of alcohol. Pretty sure I mentioned it before that Spring Festival is an excuse to get stupid-ass-drunk. That’s one thing I don’t like about the holiday. Sure, we also get drunk during the holidays (not me), but I dislike that, as well.

What did I take away from this experience? We’re all the same.

In my three years here, most Chinese think foreigners are different from them. We’re not. Just like them, we value family and the time we spend with them.

If you ever have the chance to experience this, you should. Once was enough for me, though.