Wow 2 posts in 1 week!
I feel like the Grinch… “Oh the Noise, Noise Noise!” I couldn’t stop the celebration from coming, it was here and we could hear it all around. It started soon as the darkness settled in, the first firecrackers echoed off the neighbouring buildings. It was a cold bitter night with below zero temperatures and a high windchill. Soon as the fireworks went off the red papers would blow along the street littering the road. The wind carried the sound and sulfur smelling smoke like grey clouds across the night sky.
We wandered the streets in search of more fireworks. We watched as people with arm loads and shopping cards full of boxes with the noise makers set up their displays for small congregations of neighbours. Even with ear plugs, a hat, a hoodie and hood on the noise was deafening… my ears rang for days! To be heard you had to shout, but the noise drowned out your words. The noise was so loud that you could feel it deep inside you, and it was loud enough I am sure I felt the ground move! The smell of smoke and sulfur filled the air and burned the back of our throats.
Finally the cold got to us and we went inside to warm up only to head out again when the real party began around midnight. The noise was even more intense as fireworks were going off constantly as people ran to light more and more all at once. Men unrolled 500+ firecrackers in long red lines that snaked along the road, large boxes were set up in the middle of the roads. These large boxes “the cake” were the beautiful light displays that we are used to seeing light up our skies at home.
Walking along the street felt like walking on a stoney unpaved road as the debris from firecrackers littered the streets. Small piles of red papers were gathered and burned to help clear things away. Tubes, ‘cake boxes’ and paper disks were discarded as the spent firecrackers had been used up and the crowds dispersed looking for larger crowds who still had some poppers, or heading inside to escape the bitter cold winds.
By 1AM most was quiet and Year of the Dragon had entered with a big bang.
Thursday was another night of fireworks, much louder and intense that Sunday night. Maybe some prize fireworks were saved and waiting for a warmer night. Tonight was more comfortable in temperatures and no wind to chill you to the bone.
About 8PM they started again about every 5-15 minutes. At midnight the flashing night sky, loud bangs echoing off the tall apartment buildings woke us up. The noise would wake the dead! I stood and watched from the living room window and even more splashes of light filled the sky that New Years Eve. All night the noise continued late into the next afternoon. If I didn’t know any better I would think I was in a war zone. I can’t imagine living in a place where the noise is not a celebration, but one of fighting for peace, land or country and wondering IF and WHEN it would end. The fun had worn off and the noise just became an annoyance. The noise is meant to scare off evil spirits, and by now I think they were long gone! I knew it would have to stop soon, and that would be a relief.
This was our first Chinese New Year and it was a worthwhile experience. To understand another culture first hand is certainly the best learning experience. Discovery through immersion. The locals were more than happy to share their custom with us, and smiled and said Happy New Year in English as we passed or stopped to watch. Xin Nian Kuai Le. We were not lucky enough to receive a red envelope, filled with new ‘lucky’ money. Maybe next year 😉
Stay tuned for more from China…