The calendar was very much in our favor, as we arrived in Xi’an right before the Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year) celebrations began. The New Year is followed by the Spring Festival, which lasts for 15 days. Most people have off of work for a week, and students have a long vacation. The holiday is all about seeing family, especially for those who have moved away from their hometowns. The holiday is also about eating. Lots of eating.
We all had very different experiences. Some of us stayed at home. Others spent time at the homes of grandparents and other relatives. And a few of us went on vacation for sightseeing and swimming at the beach.
Here’s a glimpse at what some of us did during the holiday:
To celebrate the holiday, my family and I went to the house of my grandmother’s sister. Since all of our grandparents are dead, we went to visit their graves and preformed some rituals to honor them. – Ling-li
Chinese New Year was so much fun! We spent most of the day setting up posters around our house with the word lucky in Chinese on them. If you put the symbol upside down it meant that you had a lucky year and if you had it right side up it meant that you are going to have a lucky year. Later on I helped my host mother and sister make some delicious dumplings. We made so many! Before dinner we all got dressed up and gathered together in the living room. My host father and his father burned some type of paper and prayed to their ancestors by bowing. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to join in or not, but I did anyway. They all started laughing at me… so after that we had a delicious dinner and they passed out red envelopes with money inside. Everyone was very excited and happy. As the dinner ended we all moved to the living room to watch the famous Chinese New Years show to conclude the night. It was such a cool experience! – Gabi
For the Chinese New Year my whole family drove 8 hours out of the city to the countryside. We first went to the grandmothers house on my mothers side and ate lunch. After lunch we immediately drove another hour or so to my fathers mothers house and we ate more food. At this house there were over 30 people. They had the Chinese TV special on. The next few days have been the same thing however each day we add at least 5-10 more people. It is a very large family with lots of little kids and many old people telling me to eat more. – Ashira
My family had a huge breakfast and huge dinner. We lit really big firecrackers three times. Then we watched tv and at night we lit a lot of sparklers and fireworks. – Naomi
We traveled to stay with grandparents just outside of Xi’an for two nights. Of course there was a ton of eating involved, including noodles for breakfast on New Year’s Day. We watched the gala on TV, an extravaganza that is watched by over 800 million (!) people. I was most impressed by the acrobatics acts; one of my handbalancing teachers trained in Xi’an and often talks about Chinese acrobats. I learned how to play mahjong (so fun), ping pong, and two other games. We also set off fireworks in the alley; the sound of fireworks went on all night long. – Stacy
To celebrate the Chinese New Year I traveled with my family to various family members’ homes around Xi’an. We had meals as a family, but time that wasn’t occupied consuming exorbitant amounts of food was spent alone. My host brother and I went out when we weren’t busy with the family and bought a variety of firecrackers and fireworks to play with. This isn’t really common practice in America, at least not for me, so I was thrilled to blow some things up. We did this for three days. I wouldn’t mind continuing to play with fire instead of going to school on March 5th, but there’s a time and place for everything I guess. – Nick
I spent the new year at the houses of different family members. I ate so much food and watched as people near by set off fireworks. As soon as the new year was over my family and I travelled to Yunnan. We’ve been riding horses, strawberry picking, and kayaking. It’s been a blast! – Margo