The End of the Spring Festival

This past Sunday was the Lantern Festival. This festival marks the end of the Spring Festival/Chinese New Year celebrations. It always takes place on the first full moon following New Year’s Day (which is held on the new moon).

According to tradition, Chinese people head into the streets under the full moon to look at lanterns, play games, watch dragon dancing. It sounded like a charming holiday, so the DH and I headed to Linyi’s People’s Square (the plaza in the city center) to watch some lanterns, or see some dancing.

I was expecting to see some lanterns, but all I saw was a BUNCH of fireworks, going off loudly and colorfully in every direction in the city. Literally, you could hear booms and see color or shadows of color everywhere one looked. The square was packed full of people, but there were no lanterns. Not one! I guess tradition has gone out the window in favor of fireworks. The DH was in heaven with all the color and noise. Personally, I felt like I was in the midst of the London Blitzkrieg with the booms and bams and the lit up sky and all the burning embers.

Back in the states, fireworks are generally banned in most cities. On major holidays like Independence Day, the city will usually arrange a spectacular fireworks show. In China, many major cities have also banned fireworks, but Linyi has not. The city government here also arranged a fireworks show, but it was one (albeit bigger) display among hundreds. I’ve never seen or heard anything like it.

After checking out the square, we returned to our neighborhood, across the river that divides Linyi into several districts. From our side of the river bank, we had a panoramic view of rockets and lights and embers all across the city. It would have been more beautiful had it not also been -5 C and demoniacally windy. We are now living in a 5th floor apartment inside a small apartment complex. (I almost wrote “flat” there – I am being brainwashed by all the Brits!) Some of our neighbors were shooting off fireworks inside the complex. The “treat” for us was that they would explode more or less in front of our living room windows. Nothing like being inside a fireworks display!

So, with the end of Spring Festival, we can expect to hear much less fireworks. The fireworks street vendors have moved on, along with all the red paper decoration vendors. A few weeks ago, the roads were lined with temporary stands selling all the necessities for the New Year. Now everything is getting back to normal.

I had hoped that Spring weather would actually arrive with the festival, but no, we are experiencing a frigid cold front, with temperatures once again below zero. Lhasa is looking warm right about now!

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One Response to “The End of the Spring Festival”

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