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Spring Festival/Chinese New Year (Chinese New Spring Year Festival, or CNSYF) fast approaches. The past month has seen endless preparation: fresh flowering plants in the medians, lights, decorations, bunnies, and big displays in the parks, roundabouts, department stores and anywhere else there is open space. Things are getting cleaned, cleaned and cleaned, which is a never ending task given the populace's penchant for littering. Every stationer, small market and department store has become a purveyor of CNSYF decorations. Parties are happening, firecrackers are detonating, and everyone is in a great mood, even some bus drivers.
There are some great traditions here and I've participated in a few myself:
Lucky Money Envelopes ->
The first is Lucky Money. Lucky Money is given to kids in little red envelopes. Parents give them to their kids, teachers give them to students, people give them to nieces, nephews, grandkids, friends' kids, etc. I've given 5RMB notes to rugrats and 100RMB notes to special, awesome kids. It's fun!
Another tradition that I like is oranges. We grow great citrus in this region and I love the tangerines. Tangerine, orange and kumquat trees are also a big deal. Florists and purveyors of pottery also abound and prosper.
I also like the parents who give gifts to the teacher a lot. Generally this is good tea, or yummy sweet treats. Teachers fatten up a bit this time of year.
Another tradition that kind of sucks is price gouging. The price of all food goes up, taxi fare become negotiable, the price of a haircut doubles, etc.
There are some great floral displays going up in the entrances of parks around the city only slightly marred by the display of cartoon rabbit figures that I'm sure were pirated directly from Hallmark Easter cards. Still, they are pretty cool.