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Celebrating 2010 CNY in the Countryside
                   By Lea Xu

This year our family travelled to Luizhou, Guangxi for the Chinese New Year Celebrations with my husband Louie’s family.  But we all loved the celebrated in the countryside in a small village in Guangdong.  It was such a meaningful experience, I wanted to write about it and share it with you all here. 

Our family friend, Mr. Liu invited us for a visit to his hometown, a small village of Xuan Hua in Conghua (famous for its hot spring), Guangdong province.  We arrived late in the evening, close to 8 pm. and it was getting dark.
The entire village was there for the evening festivities; we gathered around a small pond. In the dark it looked more like a stream, as it had a bridge over it. Mr. Liu and others had donated to have large firecrackers laid out, like in a wreath around it.

There were old farmhouses right by the pond, with very traditional, old style buildings and in the dim light, it was picturesque. There were lanterns hung on the trees around the pond and in the windows of the farm homes. Everyone seemed knew each other and it was such a “warmth” that came from just being there. There were hundreds of people from the village to participate this huge community event.  You could tell from the way people talked that the people gathered there were friends and family members that had grown up together.

At first we went with Mr. Liu to visit his ancestor – the Liu family temple.  This old farmhouse that had been turned into a temple has wonderful traditional architecture and a nice courtyard.  We accompanied him as he went in and prayed for a good harvest and good wishes for his village.

We then saw some young men performing the lion dance. They went from door to door, inviting people to join, though many were outside already with us. The lion dancers come across the bridge as fireworks are everywhere and loudly going off, lighting up the sky with various colors.
The highlight of the night was to light up the “Cai Men” (color gate) which was hanging high up on a pole about 40 meters in the air. People tried to throw the fireworks to hit the “color gate” which was also made of fireworks.  Hundreds of fireworks went to the pole and tried to reach the “gate”.  Of course, it was mostly dark, except from the light of the lanterns and fireworks going off with multiple explosions. It was so noisy, crowded in a good way and exciting.  Winner would bring good luck to his family and relatives and he or she would have to make “Cai Men” for next year’s celebration. There were judges who watched to confirm the winner(s). When the pole was hit, the “color gate” was exploded with beautiful colors and it was phenomenon!  Our family enjoyed this great and special tradition.

In the city, CNY is also the most special celebration and is the biggest event of the year with people planning with the best food, family gatherings and watching national large CNY festive entertainments on CCTV.  You can hear the loud firecrackers going off outside at midnight and everyone is feeling festive and enjoying the night.  The kids are running around, asking for their “hong bao” and eating much candy and special treats. It is the most festive time of the year. All of the family is together and enjoy new year traditions.

I must say that the countryside celebration was a most meaningful event, as it was wonderful to be there. It was all warm, cozy and comfortable because we were connected to the whole community. I wish to take my girls back again to celebrate the New Year in the countryside – it is the most special time we’ve had.
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