Saturday, January 29, 2011

Spring Festival!

The biggest holiday in the Chinese year is Spring Festival, known to everyone else as the Chinese New Year.  Whenever this rolls around everyone in the country plans trips home to visit their family, huge meals, celebrating with night after night of fireworks, and a large chunk of time off work.  The official holiday is 15 days long!  Before the festival begins all the women are busy cleaning their house and preparing and cooking countless meals.  

So...since the whole country basically shuts down for that time period we benefit by getting a super long break, 18 days to be exact.  I spent the first few days of break not doing much at all, sleeping in, watching some TV shows and movies and just relaxing.  However, I decided that would not be a good way to spend the whole break, so here are some things I hope to accomplish over the next 2 weeks!

  • read at least 2 books (i'm almost done with 1 so this shouldn't be a hard goal to meet)
  • go ice skating (as long as it doesn't get too warm)
  • make homemade dumplings for new years!
  • have a soup/bread bowl night
  • make cookies
  • make maple twist
  • go on some coffee dates
  • practice Chinese
  • deep clean my room
  • listen to sermons
  • read my Bible everyday
  • send e-mail updates to people back home
  • skype with people back home
  • go to the temple fair at YMY
  • not spend too much money 
  • except for when I....
  • go to Hong Kong to visit a student :)

I'll update after break to see how good I do with these goals!

Friday, January 14, 2011


I always said I thought I could live most anywhere, as long as it had snow.  As you know, I have loved living in Beijing.  However, there is one thing that is majorly lacking...there has been NO snow.  Everyday when I look at the forecast on my computer there is a sun...and nothing else.  I know that some of you are thinking, take some of the feet of snow we've had, and you know what, I gladly will!  So, here's to hoping I get at least one snowfall here before spring comes!

(this begins a new ideas I have to post random things I miss...sometimes they may be silly little things, while others time it may be something very real and big)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A wedding!!!

I started this year with a trip to the countryside to attend the wedding of Mary, one of our Chinese staff.  Mary and I have become pretty close and we enjoy cooking and hanging out together, so I was very excited to attend her wedding.

So, it turns out that Chinese weddings are very very different than weddings in America.  We got off a bus on the side of the road where John (Mary's husband) and one of his relatives were waiting for us.  We proceeded to walk to the other side of the road where 2 cars were waiting for us and travel a short distance on non existent roads to their village, which is very much in the countryside.  His families house has very limited electricity (one light in each room), no running water, a coal burning heater in each room and that's about it.  The bathroom as Mary put it, there is no bathroom, you can go somewhere, you can go anywhere!  However, I was glad to see that there was a designated location with walls around in, even though it was outside in the freezing cold.

The rest of the day we ate, had a walking tour of the village, sat around, played somewhere between 20 and a 100 games of UNO, and ate some more.  

The next day was the wedding!  Let me start by saying that I don't really know what constitutes the fact that they are actually married now.  Mary arrived in a car that Johns family sent to pick her up, and somewhere along the line money was exchanged.  She was dressed head to toe is the lucky color of China, red.  John carried her from the car to the house while occasionally friends would try to pull on his jacket to make it more difficult.

Then they went in the house and eventually many of the friends when in and the tradition is to take the many layers of clothes off the bride and groom.  Then whoever catches the clothes sells them back to them for things such as money, candy, or cigarettes.  That is tradition #1 that I will not be following!

Then we headed to the town which is maybe 15-20 minutes away from the village for lunch.  When we arrived we tried to go the banquet room where we thought everyone was eat, but a Chinese lady grabbed me and made me follow her back to a private room since we were VIP guests.  So, we ate another delicious meal and then were able to go and see Mary and Johns new apartment in the town.  Tradition #2 I won't be following.  Mary was originally not allowed to live in that apartment for something like 100 days (I think they decided on fewer) because you obviously can't mix a new apartment and a new married couple.  Didn't you know too many new things together is a horrible combination?

Finally we traveled back to Johns families house where we napped and played more UNO until it was time to eat again.  Mary and John ate with us for the first half and we all had a lot of fun.  We made them do a few American customs such as kissing when you hit glasses and toasting while we also enjoyed many Chinese toasts.  

Then we went to the other room where they had been eating with their classmates and friends from school and we experienced tradition #3, the one I DEFINITELY won't be participating in.  We were told earlier that their friends and relatives like to "play" the couple.  We went exactly sure what this meant, but we thought it was just little tricks, similar to things that happen in America.  Boy we were wrong.  First playing the couple meant that all of their clothes were somewhat forcibly removed as they tried to cover up with blankets.  Then they were given small sheets or other objects to cover up with and played various impossible games.  At one time Mary looked over at Amanda and I and asked if we wanted to get married in her village, to which we promptly answered no!  Later than night Mary told us that she was glad we were there because she used us as an excuse that she didn't want to lose face with foreigners there so it wasn't near as bad as it could have been.

Overall it was an experience of a lifetime.  Living for 2 days in rural China like they have for generations and getting a further glimpse into their lives is an amazing experience.  Before we left Johns family was apologizing to us that they were not able to offer us more, yet they gave us so much and provided so completely.