To get an idea of how big Chinese New Years you need to roll Christmas and Thanksgiving together. Add a pinch of Valentine’s Day (as they are on the same day this year) and multiply by 1.5 billion people. Then, replace each and every pine needle from the average numbers of Christmas trees all over America with a firework. Now add about 20 million more fireworks to that pile and you will have some idea what the Lunar New Year is like.
The Chinese love their fireworks and there is no better day to express that love then New Years. (While we call it Chinese New Years, it is more appropriately called Spring Festival.) How much do they love them, you ask? Well, here is an article from China Daily by Chinese humorist Hong Huang. (You can read the whole article here.)
“Now fireworks. It is strictly, strictly for us Chinese. We really don’t want you anywhere near fireworks. First of all, it is dangerous. You don’t understand why 1.4 billion people have to turn into pyromaniacs for one night. It’s totally beyond your comprehension. But we love it; we have been setting off these things since we were three and for 5,000 years. So let me just say that fireworks are not for barbarians like you. You don’t get it. On the other hand, we Chinese have great tolerance for fireworks; it’s one night when you can do some damage and get away with it. For example, you can burn a building down, a brand new building, with stuff in it. How can you comprehend that level of generosity?
And, don’t you dare try to do the same, we simply have no tolerance for it. You try to burn a building down, we will kill you, because, you were probably high, and we really don’t give a hoot whether you are mentally disturbed or whether your prime minister is going to make endless harassing phone calls.
So, you better be good, you better be nice, because firecrackers are coming to town!”
So I, for one, am taking her advice and not lighting any myself. But I am enjoying the display from the hundreds of Chinese people in my town. It looks beautiful yet sounds like war.
Some fireworks are sharp and quick. They sound like hail falling on a tin roof. Others are absolutely silent as they go up, then explode with a sound that breaks the sound barrier. And then there are the more ‘typical’ fireworks that go up with a squeal and burst into a colorful spray with a boom. I’m not sure if I’ll be getting any sleep over the next few nights, but it has been really interesting to be here during the biggest holiday.
Every lunar year is also associated with a zodiac animal. This year is the year of the Tiger. The tiger is associated with unpredictability, power, sincerity and daring.
And in case you’re wondering the Chinese still put stock in the lunar calendar. Many wall and electronic calendars have both dates displayed. Many of my students use the lunar calendar for something very important, celebrating their birthday twice! Incidentally while it is year 2010 by the Gregorian calendar it is year 4707 on the Lunar calendar.
So hold on to your hats and have a very Happy New Year!!!