Preparing for Chinese New Year

I apologize for my lack of blog posts for the past few weeks. I have been under the weather, and pretty badly so. My blog may seem a little outdated since Chinese New Year was nine days ago, but I wanted to keep everyone updated on my experiences before the holiday and my sickness hit.

Red lantern Outdoor sign with fireworks

Chinese New Year is probably the biggest holiday celebrated in China. It seems to be on the scale of Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the American New Year combined. 2015 is the year of the sheep/goat/ram. That might seem a little strange because they are all clearly different animals, but they are all depicted in marketing campaigns. Actually, I tried to do a little research and found that 2015 is the year of the “wood ram,” but with everyone saying something different, it is really hard to know for sure!

red envelops on shelves Chinese person playing pin the lantern on the board

Before vacation for the staff started, our friend Zhou planned a big event at the Lianhua Community Center. There were many games and prizes for the elderly, and everything was based on Chinese New Year traditions with a twist. Red envelopes, like the ones pictured above on the left, are a common sight during this time of year. Traditionally, adults give these envelopes filled with money to children. The children are then expected to do the same when they marry and become adults. This game, however, did not involve money, just instructions to the game. Little, one of the YMCA staff members, and I were in charge of a paper lantern game. It was very similar to “Pin the Tail on the Donkey,” but with red lanterns!

blindfolded Chinese student with a paper lantern IMG_5514

Leona decided to give our game a whirl and succeeded! This was pretty surprising because our game was actually very difficult, and not many accomplished the goal without someone giving them help. I didn’t even pin my lantern onto the poster.

Blake getting her hair washed Blake and a fellow student in front of a giant pink bear

After our last day at Lianhua, which Hannah blogged about, I decided it was time for a haircut; my bangs were already in my eyes! I was told by Sherry that it is very bad luck to cut your hair after the Chinese New Year until mid-March, and if I did cut my hair during this period, my mother’s brother would have some great misfortune, so I decided to go to a salon. The salon was very different from what I am used to. I had to lie down on a bed and have my hair washed and head massaged. It was actually quite nice.

Although the style I was looking for was lost in translation, I was still satisfied with my cut. Salyo came with us and we took this picture after I was done. It was a good day; I had a new Pikachu hoodie, my favorite street snack, and an alright hairstyle.

Hannah and Blake eating sugar coated haws on a stick Blake riding a sheep statue

Speaking of my favorite street snack, here it is again. Literally translated, it is called “sugarcoated haws on a stick.” I prefer this to its Chinese name for obvious reasons, so I cannot remember what it is truly called. Hannah is holding strawberries on a stick, and my snack was a mixture of tomatoes and mandarin oranges. Interestingly, the tomatoes tasted pretty divine coated in liquid sugar. Because it was about to be Year of the Sheep/Goat/Ram, I decided to do what the Chengdu children do and ride an inanimate sheep.

stuffed sheep dolls

I picked up some souvenirs for my friends as well! Stay tuned for more adventures while I concentrate on feeling better!

About the author

Blake Bailey

Hey, I'm Blake, and I'm concentrating on political science with my Liberal Arts & Sciences: Social Science degree. This semester, I'll be teaching English in Chengdu, China, as part of an internship program. After graduating with my associate's degree, I hope to transfer to UB and get my bachelor's degree so I can pursue a career of interpreting. I'm currently learning Mandarin Chinese and American sign language, but I hope to learn Cantonese in the future! I recently resigned as Student Senate's Vice President for this internship and I participate in Anime Club and work as a student ambassador.