Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas in China...and apples

In China, most young people are starting to celebrate Christmas in a very interesting way. In fact, they are more interested in celebrating Christmas Eve Day which they call “Ping An Ye” which translates as “peaceful night.” Students and young people get together with their friends, eat at a restaurant, sing at a karaoke bar, and give apples away to their friends. Some students think that this tradition of giving away apples is a tradition from western cultures. But, it’s actually a new trend that China started within the last five years, and the reason is because the word “Ping” that they use for Christmas Eve Night “Ping An Ye” is the same character in their word for apple “Ping guo,” thus a tradition is born. I also just recently discovered that another way to celebrate this night is to light fireworks at 12:00 in the middle of the night. Merry Christmas!

As foreign students, our department gave us two days of vacation from school. Originally, they were only going to give us one day off, and that day was Christmas Eve, not Christmas. But, enough foreign students complained and explained that Christmas day was the big celebration and Christmas Eve day was not so important since most people only celebrated that day in the evening. So about one week ago, our school officially told us that we had 2 days off from school. . .Christmas day and Friday. I couldn’t be more pleased, and having no school for 2 days definitely contributes to the Christmas atmosphere.

The weather has also been very Christmasy. It’s cold, and there are few places one can go to feel fully warmed. I have done a good job of scouting these “warm” places out and staying there for long periods of time until the my outer appendages are ready to go again. When I’m sitting at our apartment studying, I perpetually hold a little hot water bag. You just plug it in and then it gets nice and hot, and it stays that way for about 30 minutes. Oh yeah, and it’s red so it’s also Christmasy.

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