Chinese New Year (CNY)
Chinese New Year is one of the most important festivals of the whole year in China. I underestimated this fact until I came to Shanghai last year, one of the most beautiful, highly international, modern cities. The Year of Rooster has just finished to welcome the Year of Dog. The Lunar calendar indicated 15th Feb. as the last day of the former year and 16th Feb. as the first day of the new year.
The Chinese spend the Spring Festival (as CNY break is called at schools) at home with their families. The expats take holidays to such countries like: Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand. The places which are in the near proximity to China, whereas very distant from the places of origins such as Europe.
Schools are closed for two or three weeks. This year, the Chinese schools were closed as of 12th February, the international schools one week later. Big cities are empty. Shanghai was like a hunted city; no traffic (highly unusual in such a city), no people, quite empty shops, reasonable AQI as most of the factories were shut. I could say it was great to stay in Shanghai during the Spring Festival.
Tickets for trains, buses and planes are purchased a few months earlier. Just before the Spring Festival the prices of tickets go enormously up and hardly ever are available. Thus, transport companies organise lotteries and auctions. My Chinese language teacher was trying to purchase a ticket for the whole week. She was unable to define if she will come for a class next day or not.
The predominant symbol of the new year is a red colour. Its connotations are luck and wealth.
This year shops were decorated in red colour and full of red colour accessories such as: cartoon dogs, window and door decorations, sweets wrapped in glittery red paper. I also had a feeling more dogs started being walked out. This however might be a very subjective observation.
This is also a time of “Hao Bao” when people exchange “red envelopes” with specific amount of money. Even children receive “red envelopes”. In such a highly technologically developed country as China, people receive their red envelopes via WeChat too. The amount of money meant for personal drivers and ayis is specifically defined and depends on the person’s seniority and the work time model. The more seniority and the work time, the higher “Hao Bao”