Spring Festival. Chinese New Year. National Firecracker Day. Whatever you wish to call it, it still occurs every year for some reason and just like Christmas in America nobody can stop it from coming. You can, however, run away from it.
That’s what my wife and I did. We ran (or flew) to the Philippines as fast as we could and enjoyed every minute of the warm sun, quiet nights, and English television.
Now before I get into my reasons for running away from the biggest Chinese holiday of the year, let me clarify that I’ve been here for a few years and taken part in my share of great celebrations. If you’ve never been to China before or this is your first year residing in the country, participation in a Spring Festival celebration is a must – a memorable experience worth enjoying. Once you’ve checked it off your list, though, I highly recommend running away if at all possible during future lunar New Year’s.
So without further ado, and probably without much surprise to those who’ve lived in China for more than a couple years, here is my list of the Top Five Reasons to Escape China during the Spring Festival:
#5 No Need to Sit Through a TV Program that Never Fails to Get More Boring Every Year
I’ve talked about China’s Variety Shows before on this blog yet it still never ceases to amaze me that this is THE anticipated form of entertainment during the Chinese holiday. Singing, dancing, and comedy sketches bunched into a single evening show has been a cultural tradition since they started airing in the 1980’s. If you don’t speak Chinese it will bore you to death; if you speak Chinese a little it will be difficult to follow; if you can at least view it with people who can understand, appreciate, and possibly translate it then it might provide a bit of entertainment for you.
#4 You Can Walk the Streets Without Fear of Accidentally Wetting Your Pants
I remember being 5 years old and fascinated with firecrackers, so I don’t blame these boys, really. But when something explodes a meter from my head while I’m walking down the street and I make a fool of myself by dropping to the ground and covering my head, there’s a big part of me that wants to teach those vermin snickering in the shadows a good lesson. Needless to say, I’m not a big fan of Chinese firecrackers.
#3 You Don’t Have to Stock Up with a Week’s worth of…well, Everything
Everything closes on Spring Festival, at least where I’m at. “Honey, did you get those eggs I asked you to buy yesterday while you were out?” my wife asked me. Shoot…that would be a ‘no‘. “Well then I guess we won’t be eating lunch or dinner for the next three days.” Well isn’t that swell.
#2 You Actually Have Something To Do
All of your friends, neighbors, and co-workers are either visiting somebody or being visited by somebody. If you’re lucky you might get invited to one of those gatherings, otherwise since everything is closed (see #3 above) you’re stuck with nothing to do for a few days. Unfortunately for me, I succumb to cabin fever very quickly.
#1 You Don’t Fall Asleep to the Sounds of World War III
It never fails that all first-year China residents complain about the all-night fireworks. It’s understandable. All multi-year residents, including me, tend to moan about how it always seems to last a day longer every year.
Again, it’s a valid complaint. A friend of mine decided to get back at all these Chinese people by stockpiling her firecrackers until July 4th – America’s Independence Day – and setting them off at 1am in the morning. As you can imagine, it didn’t go over well and ended with a visit from the police and the city mayor who just happened to live nearby. So you can either suck it up, get revenge (and time in jail), or just leave.
We left, and I think I am a much happier Chinese resident now because of it.
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