Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: chinese new year

My stories 02: Chinese New Year

It is no surprise that the Lunar New Year is the most important event of the year for the Chinese, and growing up in a Chinese family, we observe it every year. We didn’t go all out with the rituals and celebrations, which themselves vary among regions across China. For us, it’s usually just a simple meal with the immediate family. The last time I spent Chinese New Year at home was in 2014, and my dad cooked a huge New Year’s Eve meal. I remember, though, that my mom unfortunately had to work that evening and was absent, so it was a dinner for three – my dad, my sister, and me. This year, however, I was finally able to spend New Year’s Eve with the entire family, after five years.

During the Chinese New Year celebrations, elders are obliged by cultural norms to give youngsters red pockets containing lucky money, or “lai-see” in Cantonese. When I was a kid, I would receive lai-see from many relatives and friends of my parents. What did I do with the money? Well, I’d be lucky if I knew how much money was in the lai-see. Why is that? Well, my mom (and many Chinese moms do the same) would claim that I was too young to spend money anyway, so she would “save up the money” for my future. After that, I would never find out the whereabouts of the lai-see. Another thing is that only married people are expected to give out lai-see – I think this is a Cantonese norm, but I’m not 100% sure. So, even though I’m in my 30s, I still receive lai-see from my relatives and am not condemned if I don’t “return the favour” by similarly handing out lai-see to their kids. I guess that’s another reason not to get married yet…

And then there are firecrackers. Perhaps it’s an irrational fear, but I’m deathly afraid of sudden, loud noises – popping balloons, thunder, and firecrackers. I can’t recall what prompted this fear in me, but I do remember shivering and hiding in the house when the firecrackers were lit in my childhood days. Nowadays, firecrackers are prohibited in many cities in China, but are still a widespread form of celebration in the countryside. It does seem like traditional Chinese heritage is being compromised by the diminishing popularity of firecrackers, but at least it effectively alleviated my pain and suffering from the deafening noises that remain in my memories.

Red pockets containing lucky money, given out during Chinese New Year.

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A short update on Chinese New Year

I have disappeared into the abyss…no not really. I’ve been travelling in Asia since the beginning of December, as I’ve mentioned in this post. Surprisingly the plan has been followed mostly successfully and I’ve dropped by most of the cities that I had wanted to visit, except for Lanzhou.

I intended to blog during the travel period but I guess I had underestimated how packed my schedule would be and how busy/tired I would be. But I will return soon, I promise!

Today is Chinese New Year and I would like to wish everyone (who celebrates it) a very happy Spring Festival (another term for Chinese New Year) and peace and health in the upcoming year! I will continue to post updates after I return to Canada, which is in 10 days. Ciao for now!

Chinese New Year lanterns in the central commercial area of Qingyuan, one hour north of Guangzhou (my hometown) in the Guangdong province of China.

One year – then, now, and favourites

It’s been one year since I arrived in France.

It’s been one year since I started this blog.

It’s been one year since I stepped into this exciting stage in my life.

It’s really been one year. Wow.

I want to make this a comprehensive and representative post of the past year, in Bordeaux, in Louvain-la-Neuve, and really, just Europe in general (minus the one month back in Canada).

What changed since I first stepped foot into Bordeaux? What didn’t change? Let’s try chart form.

As another school year has just begun (yup, second year thesis student now!) I thought I’d take a memory trip back and list some “favourites” of the year in photos. This will definitely be a fun entry to write and also to look back on in the future!

Favourite place in Bordeaux

Place de la Bourse at night, by the Miroir d’Eau

Without a doubt, it is the Miroir d’Eau, or Water Mirror by the riverside. I like to take strolls at night after dinner and somehow I often end up here to chill or just watch the reflection of Place de la Bourse in the water while waiting for the mist to come out every 15 minutes. When it is not too cold, I love to take off my shoes and dip my feet into the water, sometimes having water fights with my buddies who come along. It’s one of those places that makes you feel like you’re truly in France, carefree and relaxed.

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Beyond V-Day

I had been contemplating the idea of investing in a better camera for a long time. At one point in time I was seriously looking into a purchase within the next three months. This week, I gave it a little more thought. My final decision is that I will not be buying any fancy camera any time soon (that probably means at least not this year). I will stick to my basic Canon A2000 (and my Sony Ericsson K770i cell phone camera, if I don’t have my Canon) for my day-to-day photography.

Many friends have encouraged me to get a DSLR for my adventures in Europe, and I do admit it’s going to be quite a loss if I were to insist on getting the perfect images, but really, anything beyond a pocket camera is simply impractical for me at the moment. Not to mention the cost of getting one of these babies, but having to carry a large camera around everywhere I go would be a hassle in the first place. I don’t think a DSLR would be on my list of things-I-bring-to-work-in-my-backpack-every-day, and it certainly is not something I’d like to lug around my neck most of the day. (Maybe I just need to be convinced that they’re not all as inconvenient as I imagine them to be.) My little A2000, however, conveniently fits into my coat pocket and I can draw it out any time when I see anything interesting that catches my attention (examples to follow).

I have no intention of becoming anything near a professional any time soon, although I have definitely developed a strong interest in photography after observing the works of my peers. However, I think I have also underestimated the amount of time that is needed to dive into the field and truly experience the essence of professional photography. I realize that this is time that I am unable to afford at this stage, and so I will remain as an outsider and retain this interest until much later, when I feel that I have the time to take on the challenge.

In the end, my purpose for taking photos is not to have gorgeous colours and effects, though that would be an added bonus. Photographing daily life is a pleasure in itself and does not require any extensive equipment beyond a small camera for an amateur. Of course, travel photography is much more thrilling, but to get a DSLR just for this purpose – with the constraints of budget and time in mind – is not worth it, in my opinion.

Enough about cameras and on with the photos 😛 By the way, happy Valentine’s Day or Singles Awareness Day, whichever one applies to you. Personally I think V-Day is immensely overrated anyway.

 
We start off this post with some adorable animals that I’ve encountered in Bordeaux. The first two photos are of a cat that happened to be staying at a friend’s house for a couple of weeks when I was visiting. It was a shy fellow, always hiding in the corner like a spy observing our every move. It has such sharp and beautiful eyes though, and no, it is not dead in the second picture. Next, friend and I met a small puppy during a walk. This little guy was tricky; I was never able to capture a picture of it from the front, but it was cute, nevertheless. (Click on photos for full-sized version.)

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Chinese new year!

It is belated, but happy Chinese new year!

On Saturday, February 5th, 2011, the Bordeaux Chinese Christian Fellowship organized a new year’s event in the form of a gospels gathering for the Chinese community of Bordeaux. The gathering took place at the new Cenon church and the flow of the event was as follows:

(1) Welcome and greeting
(2) Performance by worship team
(3) Testimony and sharing
(4) Message from pastor
(5) Response and benediction
(6) FOOD!

Weeks of preparation went into this event, and every brother and sister put in all of his/her effort into making the event a success and making our guests feel welcomed in the house of the Lord. I am still excited, three days later, when I think about that day when I experienced such joy and fulfillment…

With weekly worship team rehearsals and co-worker meetings during the entire month of January, I was beginning to feel like my work at fellowship is a full-time job rather than my PhD. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still doing fine and I haven’t neglected my responsibilities as a student. It just makes me feel so stress-relieved to be away from office politics and plunge into a family of love and comfort.

The event began at 11 o’clock in the morning, but with anticipation in our hearts, co-workers began their preparation at 8:30. Since our church just moved and the construction is not nearly complete at the new location, we weren’t left with great conditions to work with – no heat, no functional bathroom (there is a “chemical bathroom” and two public bathroom stalls nearby), and no structure. Great. It seemed like we had to start from nothing, didn’t it?

But God is amazing like that. He started us off with nothing and in the end, everything worked out. One couldn’t help but ask…what ISN’T possible?

I can only put a selected number of photos here but if you’re interested in seeing the full spectrum, feel free to visit the fellowship web site or Facebook.

Simple decorations, but the combination of red and yellow transformed an empty church into a bright haven. The set-up was rather delicate, in the that cross on the right was placed directly in front of a window pane. As the sun shone through, the two crosses gave off a yin-yang effect. Pretty neat. The centre of the stage would soon become a popular spot for after-event photo spree 😛

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