“Little” Chinese New Year

Did you know that many Chinese celebrate a “little” Chinese New Year holiday 7 days before the real one?
Neither did I. Our company is working Saturday and Sunday so that we can take two extra days off next week, and at 4:45 PM yesterday afternoon, I found out that the entire company was going to a dinner to celebrate this extra holiday. How nice, I thought. I was looking forward to some good food and an early night home.

Everyone was loaded into the school van and a few taxis and driven to one of Linyi’s nicest hotels. It seemed at first like a typical company dinner – everyone happy, nice buffet dinner, a few toasts to the boss and the New Year… and then it all descended into crazy, beer-fueled debauchery the likes of which no American company could survive. A note on Chinese culture – at banquets and dinners, guests do not swill down beer or alcohol at their own leisure. There are specific rules on this. Everyone must drink together, which means if you want to have a drink, you must make a toast to someone or everyone at the table. Then everyone drinks. The men will usually “Ganbei!” which means to empty your glass and drink it all. Women sometimes do that too, but they can get out of it more easily than the men. So, because everyone wants to express their happiness and good will towards everyone else, there is usually a lot of toasting. It is very common to go to a restaurant and see tables full of quasi-inebriated people, red-faced, grinning, toasting away. Inevitably, one will have his head resting on the table and in the end, someone will be carried out. (People who don’t drink usually toast with tea, orange juice or other liquid.)

As an American, this is bizarre. Can you imagine getting hammered on toasts right in front of your boss? Possibly even puking under the table? Or passing out on the floor? What if it were your boss? In America, I’m pretty sure someone would be either: fired, disgraced, sent to AA…

So what happened last night was actually not all that crazy – a lot of people got blitzed, some got sick, some didn’t. Everyone was very jovial and we heard so many kind and warm comments directed our way that I was actually a bit overwhelmed. We ended the evening with possibly some of the most expensive bowling I have ever played (in the basement of the 4 star hotel) and we were home by 11 – so how crazy could it have been?

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One Response to ““Little” Chinese New Year”

  1. It’s Mid-Autumn! « On the Fringe Says:

    […] at our company party, and it wasn’t bad. Yes, I did say company party. Did you read about our last company party? Well, this was more of the same: lots of food, lots of toasting, some puke and some passing out, […]

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