Saturday, January 28, 2006

Tomorrow is the beginning of the Spring Festival and Chinese people are on the move. Scurrying like columns of ants toward the loading platforms to return to their families. Since I am a teacher at a university I'm enjoying some time off and catching up on some things that I have been wanting to do. They keep the trains moving here, I hear them day and night as I live on a street that has the line. It's not bothersome, in fact I enjoy watching the trains pull out and come in. One tradition I enjoy are the dumplings at this time of year. It's part of the traditional meal. They filled with many varieties of food such as lamb, pork, peppers, cabbage, beef, egg, shrimp and pretty much whatever you think goes together well.

Harbin is supposed to have a ban on fireworks. Well at least I have been told that. Which is pretty funny. If there is a ban it is overlooked by the police and there are large displays from tops of buildings and the streets and it will be ongoing for about two weeks. When I was in I Chang it was customary to light off the large string of firecrackers in the stairwells of the apartments. Really loud! Hopefully all the bad spirits will be frightened away and 2006 will be a good year for us all. One thing that you see a lot of in Harbin is the practice of burning yellow paper on the street corners. Nobody seems to know the origins, my guess is that is probably comes from Taoism, where honoring the past ancestors is practiced, Shintuism also has some of these characteristics. The idea is that the paper is money and they are sending money to the newly departed or perhaps long departed relatives. It begins with drawing a circle on one of the corners of the street. First burning some paper outside the circle for those other spirits and then burning the bulk of it inside the circle. Being the smart ass that I am I have asked, if you believe that you should burn real money. Fat Chance.

Another tradition is the red envelopes with gifts of money for the unmarried and commonly for the young ones. Schools will have lots of new children in new coats and other clothing as shopping and marathon games and television viewing will dominate the holidays. For me, I am having fun promoting and working at the computer. Hope you get some red envelopes and have a great new year. Tomorrow I will walk you through a couple of techniques to get your blog seen and listed with the major search engines.

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