Dear Friends, Family, Fellow Travelers, and Random Readers,
Merry Christmas from Beijing, China!
We’re thrilled to be celebrating Christmas from the Middle Kingdom this year. Its a different experience than Christmas back home. For starters, Santa is only featured in a few select Western shopping centers, and his presence isn’t really felt in Beijing. There are no lights on the houses, or little Christmas trees or candles in our neighbor’s windows. Christmas carols are not heard in shops or homes. There are no sales on egg nog. There is no egg nog.
Despite all this, Beijing is in a festive mood. The weather has changed and its suddenly freezing (literally). Hou Hai Lake already has its first firm layer of ice, and people will be skating on it soon. The wildlife (what little there was in the city) has receded into nooks and crannies, and people walk around with scarves pulled up to their eyes and hats pulled down to their noses. I imagine they are all smiling under their winter wear and wishing me Merry Christmas with their desperate, freezing eyes.
There are some holiday events going on in Beijing this year, but mostly they are centered around food and wine, and have little to do with the actual holiday. Luckily for us, family will be visiting our little hutong home and bringing the holiday spirit with them. We have a mini Christmas tree that we’ll be stringing up popcorn on, and we’ve purchased a copy of It’s a Wonderful Life. We’re making our own Christmas fun this year!
The Chinese don’t celebrate the New Year on the 1st. Chinese New Year is coming up (Feb 3rd) and everything will be festive and lively then. It is the single most exciting and celebrated holiday in Asia (and thus, on the planet probably). Fireworks explode from everywhere for several days on end. Two years ago in Shanghai, there were so many fireworks people were throwing them out high-rise windows and one bounced off our taxi, skidding to a stop outside the window and exploded with a shower over the entire car. Its something you can only understand by experiencing, and we’re looking forward to it with fire extinguishers at the ready.
For now, we’re signing off for the remainder of 2010 and wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! We’ll resume updating Abandon the Cube with the dawn of the new year. All our best wishes to you and yours and a happy start to 2011!