She battles the snow in her unique way~ Shanghai
It seems so appropriate for the year to end and a new one to begin with a blanket of fresh snow, a clean slate, a new start. A stillness fell over the city today as more than half the population leaves for their homes away from Shanghai or to holiday destinations leaving a haunting sense of quiet and empty streets where normally life is buzzing noisily. Shanghai got its second day of snow today, it wore its beautiful white dress and it goes to sleep now getting ready for the big night tomorrow when fireworks will light the city streets.
Xin nian kuai le and Gong xi fa cai from Shanghai!!
it's a 'happy' new year
Happy faces and big smiles adorn the streets the closer we get to the Chinese New Year of the Dragon. The most important holiday of the year, the happiest day for many is around the corner. Celebrations start to manifest all around the place as more than 10 million people get ready to leave Shanghai by trains, buses and planes to make it in time for the family meetings in their home provinces. There are strict cultural rules that dictate family gatherings and meals around this holiday that most adhere to year after year.
And to top it all, there is the ‘hong bao’, the traditional red envelope that everyone receives from their employer and children from their parents with cash money inside, which plasters an even bigger grin to the faces of China’s population.
It's still Christmas in Shanghai!
I remember when we moved to Shanghai five years ago being completely taken off guard by sellers in markets wishing me a ‘Melly Kissmas’ in early June! Now, after years of living here, I am totally used to seeing huge Merry Christmas signs, Christmas trees and lights all around Shanghai late into the Spring. As a matter of fact I will not feel settled if they were not there 🙂
Tonight we just came back from a sushi dinner with friends and around the place where the restaurant was it looked like Santa would be showing up any minute. Trees, presents, rain deer, the works! It has become a custom to turn the Christmas lights into Chinese New Year’s decorations, by adding , in this case, a few rabbits, a few lanterns, and recycling the lights. But no one seems to think of removing the Christmas signs, so they end up hanging around till mid spring and sometimes later.
But this is Shanghai and why we love it!
happy chris-chinese new year
Today the Chinese New Year festivities come to an end with a big boom! It is the Lantern Festival’s main celebration. I went to Yu Yuan (Yu Gardens) in Puxi to witness the festivities and now as I write this, the sky is on fire with millions of fireworks that are going off all over Shanghai and most probably China to mark the important day. The louder the fireworks, the better the new year, or so it is believed.
This lady in Yu Gardens was so dazzled with the lights of the lanterns that filled the streets as she looked on filled with joy. This is one day where almost everyone is smiling around here.
lantern festival candy art
It is the time for the lantern festival (Yuan Xiao) that falls 15 days after the Chinese New Year. In preparation, Chinese people hold different festivities around the place from dances, theaters, lantern watching, lantern flying, the eating of special rice dumplings that look like moons (tangyuan), and different sugar candies. The one above is spun sugar in the shape of a butterfly that I saw a boy eagerly waiting to buy today.
Flames from hotpots at the end of a Chinese New Year's feast
Today we took the long trip back from Boracay to Shanghai and straight into the loud fireworks and street festivities of the Chinese New Year of the rabbit. I took an evening walk along Yunnan Xi Lu, the street that gets decorated with thousands of colored lanterns every Chinese New Year. After about a hundred lantern and street shots, I stopped at the back of a restaurant where workers were cleaning the hot pots after a feast. Hot pots meals are a typical and popular dish in Shanghai among both locals and expatriates. The flames were just glorious. Good to be back home. I never thought I would call China home, but somehow it feels like this now.
Chinese lantern, Shanghai, China
On the third day, I was caught by all the lanterns that keep appearing around the city in preparation for the most important day of the year in China—Chinese New Year. This coming year is starting on the 3rd of February and it will be the year of the Rabbit.
This lantern was near the street where I live and I chose to photograph it from below to catch its bright colors and pattern.
The fireworks in Shanghai on Chinese New Year’s eve are the strangest I have ever seen. I took a walk over midnight around the streets and witnessed a frenzy of fireworks lit up by people in every corner of the city. It is not the usual big fireworks show I saw 2 years ago in Hong Kong during the same holiday. Here everyone lights up these big fireworks in front of their buildings and homes. The louder and bigger the better. The loud noise is meant to scare the bad spirits away and welcome the new year with its clean slate. It is just what everyone is doing that night and the city is taken over by it. Incredible to watch and be part of.