If Christmas is the Season to be Jolly, Chinese New Year is pretty much the season to be filled with unrepentant invective.
Chinese New Year is pretty much up there with Stinky Tofu and Bai Jiu as one of those things that Westerners cannot get their heads round. Even the mild mannered (by China blogging standards) Sinosplice is unable to avoid some steam-venting around this particular time of year.
Two years ago at CNY I was in my wife's home town in Gansu province enduring repeated shocks to the system as firework vendors hurled hand-grenade equivalent fireworks into the traffic as the means to advertise their wares (although typical small-time marketing practices that exist in China dictated that all street vendors were selling the same selection of fireworks as every other street vendor at the same prices). I also nearly because immobilised in the aging sofa of a relative (possibly a shu-shu - I got intoduced to so many shu-shus, ge-ges and at least one di-di that I immediately lost track) after being served the 9th full cooked meal of the day.
The high-point of new-year's day for me was watching the family playing with the baby (again, not entirely sure whose baby but definitely some relative). Over the course of half an hour the baby had been given to play with; a box of matches, a small spiky pendant, the screw cap off a bottle of spirits and, his favourite toy, an apple peeler. Fortunately none of these people are going to be anywhere near my baby this New Year so I can relax...
I was also told on New Year's Eve I would be treated to the best television that would be shown all year. Again, Sinosplice's definition covers this nicely:
The Chinese New Year craptacular (春节联欢晚会) is the mother of all Chinese craptaculars.
How true. Sadly, Chinese television is so monotonous, that there is a strong possibility that both of these statements are true. Chinese television does actually make American television appear to be a broad-brush, free from bias expression of a wide range of people's personal interests in comparison. I guess it's possible that people's personal interests in China only stretch as far as an interest in the life and times of former emperors, how badly the Japanese treated China and the state of the modern police force (with minority interests such as the 'cat stuck in a tumble-drier' din that is Beijing opera) being hived off onto their own channel.
I guess it's not all rosy in the UK (this headline from the FT ("Crowded trains ‘to leave 130,000 standing’" actually refers to London's lack of train capacity not, as I thought to China at New Year) but I'm sure it's both quieter and tastier.
If anyone is thinking "What a great time they must be having with several days off for Chinese New Year" just bear in mind that the fireworks go off for 15 days straight, that there's a small baby in the house and that I found this on the kitchen floor the other day. Apparently it's been taken up to the roof of our building because it hadn't absorbed enough pollution. I fear that it will feature on the menu over the next couple of days (hopefully there will be some left over for my mother to enjoy when she comes over in April).
Er, Happy New Year