Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year! 新年快乐!

OK, so Chinese New Year is the biggest holiday in China. It is a pretty amazing time and lasts from February 2nd to February 15th. On the 2nd, the amount of fireworks going on was absolutely insane. I am talking about Disney World style fireworks being let off literally all night long, RIGHT outside my window - and all across the city. It was amazing. The fireworks have abated, but they are still going on. For a few days, Beijing sounded like a warzone - and I didn't sleep so well. The fireworks would stop at about 2am and start up again by 8am.

Spring Festival (AKA Chinese New Year) is the largest human migration on earth. A large majority of city populations leave the city to head home and spend the festival with loved ones. An estimated 230 million people this year are using China's railways to head home for the holiday. You can imagine traveling at this time of year is absolutely crazy.

The sheer amount of people who left Beijing to head home for the holiday is obvious. Beijing is noticeably empty (for the most part). The streets, which are always clogged with cars no matter what day it is or what time of day it is, are virtually empty. (The NY Times recently reported that Beijing and Mexico City are tied for the #1 worst traffic in the world... so for the streets to be empty, it is pretty amazing.)

One place that is NOT empty.... all the temple fairs (also known as Miaohui - 庙会) scattered around the city.

Today some friends and I went to the temple fair at Ditan Park... here are a few I-phone quality pics ... and some video!!! to share.

At the end of this video, my friend is like "Are you hiding behind me so you won't be on video?" and I'm like "yup!"

And this one is a little something we like to call 人山人海 in Chinese - renshanrenhai - which means a mountain and ocean of people... which means, a helluvalot of people! It wouldn't be China if it were any other way, eh?

I hope this gives you a little taste of Chinese New Year here in Beijing!


  1. The same migration occurs here in Korea, I went out in my city on the "Lunar" New Year (which they call the Chinese New Year here) and it was completely empty!! It was so eery.. looks like you had a great time! :)

  2. Last May when I was in Shaghai, we took a train to Beijing. I was so overwhelmed with the amount of people who use the railroad system. Not sure why I was surprised...i was in China! lol. Thanks for sharing! I love Chinese history and culture, and I can't wait to go back this summer!

    <3, natasha
    twenty-something blog

  3. The pics are great. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Those fireworks help scare off spirits/ghosts in the old days, but I agree they are very loud and annoying sometimies, when at night or early monring.
    Lovce your blog, they are very interesting read and I enjoy them very much!