Reflections on a Chinese New Year

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My own humble attempt at adding to the festivities

The city of Shenzhen is nearly emptied-out. Like a major metropolitan ghost town. Not quite postapocalyptic, but slightly eerie.

All the migrants are back in their hometowns, crowded in record-breakingly awful train stations. And most of my expat friends are posting pictures of paradisesque beaches in Southeast Asia. I’m saving up for a trip later this year.

It is the Year of the Monkey, and cartoon monkeys are everywhere.

Even with Shenzhen at a fraction of its normal population, Lunar New Year’s Eve sounds like a war zone. Bang! Pow! Ka-BOOOOOM!!!! Fireworks — mostly procured illegally — are for sale everywhere. The ancient Chinese traditions.

Many firecracker stands have popped up, selling dangerous flammable items in an unregulated market and it is so much fun.

An odd thing about living in China/Asia is that you get an extra month to reflect upon the new year. There’s the Gregorian calendar to celebrate and I like it. Then there’s several weeks to break resolutions and mull over how your life is progressing. And then you get a second chance to celebrate the new year all over again and embrace the future! The intervening time may be sort of a limbo, but I still like it.

I’d like to wish a particularly happy new year to all you twenty-four and thirty-six year-olds (even though it’s bad luck to have your birthday on your own animal year, right?), as the twelve year cycle begins anew.

新年快乐!

恭喜发财!

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