- Gordon Dumoulin
New Year's eve, traditions last...
Our New Year's eve before the Lunar New Year arrives is filled with solid traditions. My family-in-law's hometown is in the rural countryside of Beijing's Tongzhou district, about 20km from the district center.
A rich lunch table at about noon with the 'small' family including fish, vegetables, stewed meat and not to forget Ma's famous marinated pork. This year with a red wine from the Puchang vineyard in Turpan valley, Xinjiang.
During the afternoon, uncles, aunties and cousins from father's side come trickling and chatters start in the house with red envelopes distributed to the kids. Early evening, dumplings are being prepared around the kitchen table, and after cooked in the old side house on a wood stove.
Dumplings are eaten (together with Laba garlic) standing up or on different tables as the house is too full. Usually two dumplings have a coin inside and the lucky ones get 100 kuai from the eldest uncle.
After the dumplings, the elder generation is going to watch the New Year gala on TV while mahjong is taken out to play on the kitchen table with a teapot. The kids take the chance to withdraw to one of the bedrooms, playing games on their phone together :-)
One thing has changed... while 8-10 years, we went outside at about 23:30 to prepare the firecrackers, this is no longer the case due to the ban of fireworks. Though it is not so strict and you can still enjoy some fireworks in the sky at midnight.
While some years, mahjong lasts until 3 or 4 AM in the night, last night it was about 1 AM that the cousins walked back to their homes.
A traditional New Year's eve in the rural east of Beijing... the start of the 15-day Spring Festival. Next days are the visits to the families from both sides with gifts of fruit, eggs, staple foods, nuts etc.etc.
Happy New Year !