Dec. 25th, 2014

Christmas in China is a curious event. They put up Christmas decorations in the shops and supermarkets but not in houses. They play Christmas carols on the streets but only the new versions sung by modern pop stars, not the "classics." They give one gift: an apple on Christmas eve, and the stores will be happy to sell you one in a fancy box for 10x the price. They don't gather the whole family together to exchange presents and share a huge dinner. They don't even have egg nog. So sad.

They DO have Spring Festival, aka: Chinese New Year, and everything about it makes Christmas look like a coffee break. First of all, its about 6 weeks long, well, the official holiday is only 2 weeks, but teachers get 6. Second, the whole country shuts down. Shops close. Streets are empty. It can get downright eerie. Third, there will be fireworks going off 24/7 for those 6 weeks. At midnight on the actual new year's day, from my window alone I have seen dozens of places launching fireworks across campus. There must be thousands spread over the city. Fourth, this is when families gather and an estimated 2 billion people travel at this time. Yes, 2 billion, that's almost 7 times the population of the US. New York rush hour? Please. Fifth, they give gifts but usually in the form of cash. And in my personal estimation, its way more than the average US family spends.

So everyone enjoy yourselves, I'll finish my classes and collect apples from generous students, then hunker down for the 'real' holiday in a month or so.