Remembering the [Chinese] New Year

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This week most of Asia is ringing in the Lunar New Year. Last year, I found myself in China right in the middle of these celebrations. Before China, I thought I had seen fireworks. I thought I had celebrated a new year. I thought it was just another holiday. But I was wrong.

In China, the weeks leading up the New Year are all about the new year. Preparations begin early. Schools let out of session. Travel gets craaaaazy. In the 40 days surrounding the Lunar New Year, approximately 3 billion passenger trips will be made, according to a Washington Post article. It’s literally the world’s largest population migration every year. I will never complain about Thanksgiving traffic ever again. Families are reunited for the New Year, as sons, daughters, mothers and fathers make their way home from city jobs back to their home village.

When we were in China, we got to see a week of life in the village the week before new year. The slow pace, quiet and reflective from city noise. We got to laugh around a campfire with a family in anticipation for the coming holiday. We learned how to make dumplings and shared meals. It was beautiful and unforgettable.

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For the actual New Years Eve and New Years Day, we were right in the city. Chinese families invited us over to celebrate. We ate SO MUCH FOOD. And then more food. We played card games. We watched Chinese TV specials. And then we set off fireworks. They were loud and they were huge. So much bigger than I’d ever set off in the States. These fireworks looked like the professional ones that I’d seen at Disney…being set off by a bunch of 10 year olds. Clearly a child’s safety came after fireworks. But it was epic.

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We attended a couple of New Years parties that week, each one bigger than the one before. But always loud, and full of laughter. We couldn’t understand much of what was being communicated but celebrations are universal. We could have a good time. We ate and drank and celebrated with new friends from the other side of the globe.

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I love travel for moments just like this. It took me out of my own scope of understanding and showed me another perspective, another way to live life. And I’ll never forget that.

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