We are now in the run up…

…….. to Chinese New Year (Spring Festival). This year is the Year of the Goat/sheep/ram (some confusion as the character for the 3 animals is similar)- this year it falls on February 19th (the date changes each year as it is determined by the 4,000-year-old Chinese lunar calendar).

– The festival lasts for 15 days and is celebrated by a sixth of the world’s population. On New Year’s eve apparently many Chinese watch the annual CCTV New Year’s Gala (‘The most watched television program in the world’) which to me is perhaps akin to the Americans watching the Super Bowl on Thanksgiving! There is also the ‘Nian Ye Fan’ or reunion feast with family. The festival finishes with the ‘Lantern Festival’ 15 days later which corresponds with the first full moon of the New Year. I believe that some of the fish-dish prepared on New Year’s Eve is finished on this date too…..mmmm.

IMG_5450Apart from lots of red decorations, it’s also the prime season for petty theft. Many people are under enormous pressure to go back to their home towns for the New Year laden with gifts and cash to show that they are “making it” in Shanghai. As the date creeps closer, so (for some) does desperation and temptation.

Hongbao is a traditional New Year gift consisting of money wrapped in a red paper envelope that is customarily given by parents, grandparents and others to children. However, these days  it is a a gift expected of just about every-one: The person I deal with in the management office in our building didn’t fail to mention that I could give little red envelopes to all of the staff….naturally …including her ;

IMG_5430Shanghighs‘:I got a painting done as a souvenir of China: fish symbolize ‘abundance’ (abundance of …joy, lightness and space of course!) and the spiraling represents …life.

Shanglows‘: I had a message pop up on my computer screen this week explaining that the reason that I’d been having so much difficulty connecting to various web-sites (such as this one) was due to the recent Chinese Government being more vigilant than ever at blocking companies such as Google and social media sites such as blogging platforms, Facebook…..etc.

IMG_5431

‘Build core values with one heart and realize the great Chinese dream with one mind’

Shangunusuals‘: These posters have been popping-up all over town. I asked someone who has been living in China for over 10 years what they were all about and he said…….’oh..its propaganda’.

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