What is Chinese New Year Really Like in China?
After a long winter break, our semester just started up again here in China, so I wanted to share a little about my experiences from winter break, including Chinese New Year, or 春节 (Spring Festival)!!
My first stop over break was to the Nujiang river valley in Yunan Province in southern China, home of the Lisu. It took a 15-hour bus ride to get here, but the scenery was beautiful and it was a great experience seeing just how different life was here.
Many Lisu still live in traditional-style homes like the one above, made mostly of bamboo, including the woven bamboo floors.
We did plenty of hiking during the week! It was also crazy to see the steep mountainsides planted with corn; very different from the flat cornfields of Iowa!
For the Chinese New Year, I returned to Gansu province to a classmate’s house in a small city. A huge part of CNY was paying respect to the older generations. All of the younger generations took turns wishing the grandparents a happy new year.
The week of CNY was mostly spent going to relatives houses wishing them a happy new year and eating food with them… We ate about six meals a day!
Next I went to another classmate’s house in a small, remote village in Gansu. His family lives in a beautiful, traditional-style Chinese home with a small courtyard.
This week was also filled with FOOD, but thankfully only about four meals a day! One unique aspect of homes in villages in northern China was the “kang” bed, basically a hollow box made of mud bricks, with a fire underneath to keep warm in the winter. The kang also served as the dining room, with mini-tables set on top and everyone sitting together on the kang.
Another specialty of villages in Northwest China are the “Shehuo” traveling performances. Neighboring villagers came to perform a Shehuo, celebrating the new year and hoping for a good harvest. You can’t imagine just how many firecrackers they set off at the start of each performance!
So that’s a little snippet of my winter break here in China! There was so much more than I can fit into one post; it was really different from any holidays I’ve experienced in the United States.