Over the past year or so, I have been writing a lot of articles about Chinese holidays on a blog for a guy named Christopher who runs a recruitment site called ESL Suite. It is a place where you can register yourself if you want a teaching job in China, and he and his co-workers will help you get in touch with schools, arrange interviews and get you ready for arriving and teaching in China. By law, this service is free for the teachers, the schools are usually paying for the service, because it takes their mind off of having to post advertisements and so the screening process themselves. In the time that I have spent writing about these holidays, I have started to notice that I care less and less about the holidays I used to celebrate back in Denmark, the traditional western holidays, and I am starting to pay more attention to the Chinese ones. There might be a couple of reasons for this, though.
The first and most obvious is perhaps the fact that, I do not often have holidays during the time of the western holiday celebrations. China does not celebrate Christmas or New Year’s eve on December 31st. Working as foreign teachers, we usually do get one or two days off for each, but you do not get a sense of Christmas spirit or anything like that here in China, not unless you’re willing to make it yourself. China doesn’t celebrate Easter either, at most we will do activities with the children around this time but nothing more. So the sheer fact that when these holidays occur, I am always at work, it can be hard to celebrate it in any meaningful way. And in the opposite way, because I have days off for all the Chinese holidays, and because I have been writing about them, I have started to take more interest in them, their backstories and their traditions. Perhaps also because I never did believe in what the Bible says about God and Jesus, but the Chinese holidays are not based on religion, simply on ancient stories. Some of them, of course cannot be true, just like the ones in the Bible, but I still find them more entertaining.
Also, having lived in China for now more than 5 years, it also has to do with the fact that I am not exposed to the western holidays like I used to. I only see the Chinese holidays and what the Chinese people are doing. After a while you get used to seeing these things, and rather than being annoyed, being afraid and not participating. I decided a couple of years ago that just like with subjects at school you don’t like, they get more interesting when you actively start paying attention. So I did, and I have learned a lot over the past few years that makes me appreciate China more and more and appreciate living here. China isn’t perfect, but it can be an interesting and beautiful place indeed.
The Chinese Spring Festival is coming. And while, this year, my biggest excitement is my best friend Paul coming back to Chongqing for a while, I am also starting to enjoy what the Spring Festival means, more so than I did before. I find myself looking forward to the Spring Festival more than the New Year because for the Spring Festival you will actually see people out, celebrating, having fun and spending time with their family. For New Year, that didn’t happen much. My resolutions also start from the Spring Festival now, rather than western New Year. And the only thing that makes me sad, is that fireworks and such are banned in most cities because of the dangers. But they decorate the city in such a beautiful way, the otherwise very stressful Chinese people become more relaxed, they have more fun, they seem to be enjoying life, at least for a while. I only wish that the kids would be allowed to enjoy as much as the adults do. The Children are forced to study for school, stuck at home doing homework while their parents are out playing Mahjong for hours on end. I wish the Chinese People would put a little more focus back on their Children, who work so hard at school throughout the year. Give them a break, let them celebrate, and enjoy. Give them a couple of days to be children and to do what they really want to do. The Spring Festival is supposed to be a celebration for all and everyone in China.
So, happy Spring Festival. Happy New Year! 新年快乐!