Cross-Cultural Spring Festival
By Denise Ng
Denise Ng was born to Chinese parents in Britain. Growing up in London her parents continued the tradition of celebrating the Chinese New Year. However, it wasn't until she was an adult and went to Hong Kong that she experienced Spring Festival on Chinese soil. In this issue of A Foreigner in China she talks about her impressions of this festival.
In London, I remember celebrating Chinese New Year without even knowing what I was celebrating! Apart from the sparse decorations in Chinatown, the rest of the city weren't partaking. So, it comes as no surprise that I didn't understand the full extent to what Chinese New Year meant. I thought it was rather strange to have the New Year in the middle of February!
However, I always looked forward to this celebration, because it was a good way to make extra pocket money. For the days coming up to Chinese New Year, all I had to do was follow my parents around the city and collect red packets from various relatives and friends. It meant I could skip my part time weekend job ①for a while! But, that would be made up for, by having a huge spring clean of the entire house…which wasn't much fun.
I remember my mum waking up really early on Chinese New Year's Eve. First, she would light incense sticks and pray to Buddha and then she would be in the kitchen for most of the day preparing a feast for dinner. If the Chinese New Year fell on a school day, I would go to school as normal and when I came home, my mum would still be in the kitchen!
If Chinese New Year's Eve fell on a weekend, my mum would tell my sister to pop down the road to pick up some fresh flowers to place on the cabinet where our statue of Buddha stood. Aside from that, we would lounge around all day, waiting for dinner. I didn't particularly have any emotions about this celebration and I didn't feel the festivities of it all.
My first taste of what the Chinese New Year celebrations really meant was when I was 20 years old and I went to Hong Kong. The locals really made a big fuss over this festival. The celebrations would last over a span of two weeks. I discovered that to the Chinese people, it is the single most important holiday of the year.
Temporary market stalls would be erected in school playgrounds, football grounds and basketball courts. The stalls would only sell fresh flowers and customers didn't mind paying the clearly ②marked up prices.
A big part of the Chinese New Year is having fresh flowers at home. Also, the locals would buy mini tangerine trees, and decorate them with red packets. They would shop around for a new outfit to wear specially for New Year's Day and you would get red packets from extended family, friends and work colleagues who are married. Homes would be decorated with printed paintings of lucky words – with red being the symbolic colour. The paintings would have a red background, with gold writing; 'prosperity', 'fortune' and 'health' just to name a few.
Hong Kong simply comes alive during the Chinese New Year. The lion dancing is great to watch as is hearing the sound of fire crackers. It all represents the Chinese New Year and sets the mood and atmosphere. Since my family is all in London, I was invited to celebrate Chinese New Year's Eve at my friend's house. I was made to feel like another member of the family and I remember going to the flower markets with them in the middle of the night! Once the huge banquet was eaten, everyone would watch television and then head out to the flower market at around 1am! The markets were always packed full of locals, trying to find the freshest flowers. There were also lots of street vendors trying to make some extra money during this festivity. Many of them would sell sweets and chocolates, which every home has during this celebration.
Being able to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong is a great experience. It is so different from celebrating it in London. Hong Kong has more of an atmosphere and a happy vibe. It's very much like celebrating Thanksgiving in the States or Christmas in London.
I'm divided between two cultures – my Chinese side and my English side. But, I stay true to both sides by celebrating all the festivities that both sides bring…. I reap the best of both worlds!
pop down 这个词组的意思相当于“去一下，去一趟”，不过它有一个暗含的意思，即那个要去的地方并不远，可以快去快回。比如，大人让小孩去附近的店铺买些东西，就可以用“pop down”这个词。当然，如果要去的地方，需要倒好几趟车，走好远的路，那么这时用“pop down”就不合适了。
just to name a few 一个固定短语，类似“for example”和“such as”等表示“例如”意味的词组。