The Spring Festival: SYA China Memoirs
by Ashley Koo on Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
Beijing, China, is an incredible place, and by living with a host family in one of the most exciting, cultural cities, I have come to learn so much about the Chinese culture and lifestyle. This fall, I had the pleasure of experiencing the Spring-Autumn Festival. I learned that Chinese holidays are occasions for families to spend time together, to cook traditional meals, and to ornament the house with festive decorations. The Spring Festival (or Chun Jie) will surely be no different, and during the week of February 11th, people all around China will be celebrating this holiday.
Although, writing this a week before the festival, nobody seems to be celebrating this festive holiday just yet, people all around Beijing are making special preparations for the occasion. My host family, for example, has already begun to decorate our home with red posters scrawled with characters that symbolize good luck and fortune, to keep away ghosts and evil spirits. In addition, my host mother is stocking the refrigerator with vegetables and meat that she will use to make steamed dumplings during the week of celebration.
As I watch my Chinese neighbors and friends also prepare for the holiday season, I cannot help but sit back and reflect on American traditions and customs, comparing them to those of the Chinese. I have easily come to the conclusion that people of different cultures are not that separated and isolated from one another because of a language barrier or cultural differences.
The Spring Festival is just one example of China’s many holidays that play an important role in its culture and society today. Rather, every culture has certain traditions that bring families together for a time of celebration. After living in Beijing for one year, I am eager to reach out and encourage others to examine culture differently. In the beginning of my SYA adventure, I did not fully understand the Chinese lifestyle and traditions. However, living here for five months has helped me appreciate my own culture and understand different customs and ways of life. As always, I want to encourage those of you who are willing to take risks and explore another culture to take part in the SYA program. My time here in Beijing has truly been a life-changing experience, and I cannot express my gratitude enough for all of the amazing opportunities still to come.
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