• Thomas Price

Seven reasons Chinese New Year is better than regular NYE.

We just had our first Chinese New Year in China. If I had known more about this, this definitely would've been on the bucket list. So now I feel like I do when I write down things on my to-do list that I have already done. Chinese New Year in China, tick. It was honestly my favourite New Years Eve night of all time (aside from the Y2K hype, because we had a whole room full of food that when the world didn't explode at midnight was a free for all). Partly it was so special because it was so different. Here are my top seven reasons why it is better than good old December 31st.

1. Fireworks

Chinese law hasn't quite caught up to Western law. I mean that in the most respectful way possible. But I have not worn a seatbelt in four weeks now, and the thought of having to put my kid in a carseat when we get back to Australia seems entirely cumbersome. Apparently it's pretty easy to go to jail here, but it's more like a naughty corner than actual prison, I'm trying not to focus on it. Basically though, I haven't really found anything that is illegal yet (aside from the obvious). You can purchase as many fireworks as you want, and for three days of CNY go nuts. FYI we bought (and when I say 'we' I wasn't present for the purchasing, my husband and his friend were) $200 of explosives, a sack full the size of my legs. (Obviously I wasn't there otherwise we would have come away with a bag of sparklers).

2.CCTV New Year's Gala

This is next level entertainment. It's like an Olympic Opening Ceremony, every year. It goes for 4 hours and everyone in China (that isn't outside setting off legal explosives) watches it. There are so SO many people in this production my mind can't even fathom the poor producers job who try and organise this. Jackie Chan even sings a song. Usually by 9pm I am done waiting for midnight and happily watch the kiddy fireworks and get into bed. But I was glued to the screen for this and made it to the midnight countdown (along with my four year old who just pulled her first midnighter - unfortunately not enough to induce a sleep in though).

3. Hongbao.

If you don't know what a Hongbao is, you're unlucky. Unless of course you're an adult. Hongbao is literally translated as red envelope and all kids get them with 100rmb from their parents (and money from any other adult that can tolerate them). Literally, if I knew about this before I did my Christmas shopping I would have toned it down a bit. Meanwhile my kids are walking around with their hundys.

4.Everyone in the whole country wears the same colour, even down to their underpants

Now you can take this as a positive or a negative, but I think the fact that a billion people are potentially wearing this firey hue of red nickers on the same night is absolutely fabulous. They sell them in the grocery store. See?

Comfy Pants. EASINESS. Great...

5. The decorations are outside your door.

And I don't mean like spending hours on putting Christmas lights outside your house. I mean you sticky tape these three pieces of red paper to your door and voila. No Christmas tree baubles being launched from one end of the hall to the other, or stockings being worn as shoes, or lights accidentally ending up as glowing tourniquets.... That's it. You have ticked every necessary decorative holiday obligation for the next 12 months.

Finished (and disposable). I'm in heaven.

6. It's a surprise.

Well not strictly speaking, but it doesn't work to our regular calendar. Chinese New Year, as is a common thread in culture here, shows up whenever it darn well pleases, with the moon.

7. It has an animal assigned to it.

Yes! I know! When I was in high-school I was so staunchly proud of not knowing my star-sign. I don't know why I got so much satisfaction from this one weird and petty thing but I did. According to the Chinese year I was born in I am a rabbit.

Listen to this: "For Chinese people, the rabbit is a tame creature representing hope for a long time. It is tender and lovely... People with Rabbit as Chinese zodiac sign are not aggressive but approachable. They have a decent, noble and elegant manner." Why thank you very much Chinese Zodiac inventors.

Unfortunately everyone born this year is not so lucky, and according to Chinese zodiac are cocks aka roosters.

8. Everything is shut for 3 days.

This is not a positive. We just did our final pre-CNY shop, and I was sure we had toilet paper. I repeat. Not a positive point.

Xīn Nián Kuài Lè! 新年快乐!

Happy New Year x

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