As the clock just gets near to 24:00 today, the fireworks start everywhere outside my window. It seems the fireworks at the begining of the 5th day of Chinese New Year is more important to people in Shanghai than the New Year’s Eve. By tradition, it is the day to be the day to welcome the God of Fortune to arrive in everyone’s home. I believe the story is: it is to welcome the God of Fortune to *return*, because he has went to the heaven to report about how the family was doing before the New Year’s Eve, and on the 5th day, he return to the family to keep bringing more fortune into the family.
It is exciting to hear the all kinds of fireworks from all the directions of the city. The peak of the celebration starts from around 11:58 PM, according to my clock, and lasts for about 8 minutes. Now, at 0:06, the Ping and Pong are still heard but not that “astonishing”… I remember at the New Year’s Eve, Wendy and I took the risk to get hurt by the fireworks and rushed out to see if our car Goudaner was OK. When we just get out, we saw and smelled the smoke of gunpowder. The visibility was really low that we could hardly see what is going on outside 10 meters. My first impression was: “Even in Bagdad, it may be just as this.” (I don’t mean to be stone-hearted of the pain of people there. It was just what I felt immediately when I was there).
© Jian Shuo Wang. Taken in Guangzhou. More.
Welcome, the God of Fortuen to my home, to this website (well…) and to the readers’ home.
It was exactly the same over here in Changning District, but I think the fireworks at this side lasted much longer – it was quite a site.
And yeah, happy Chinese New Year to you and Wendy as well! Keep up the good work for your blog!
I remember the Chinese New Years I have had four years ago in Shanghai. On the fourth night of the New Year and unaware of the tradition, my mother’s apartment was showered with rocky firecracker and exploded outside of the windows even it is 18 floors up. I thought an air raid was over Shanghai.
Eventually I found there were a group of people shooting firework display at the complex podium, I was trying to argue it is midnight and this is not a firework area.
My allegation were soon dismissed due the their overwhelming joy over the event and it developed into a shouting match, finally my mother step in and I have to back off.
I think this is a typical case of “civilization” Vs “tradition”, and the tradition finally rules.
I have to disagree with you on this topic, Stephen. I was a supporter for fireworks ban when I was in high school. In Beijing and Luoyang, it is not allowed to shoot fireworks at any time. However, later, I found it to be a very unique and important factor in Chinese tradition that has been passed to our hand after thousands of years. Although it is disturbing sometimes, it is a good way to celebrate – not because the way itself is a good way, it is more traditional things. Just like long holiday will bring trouble to people who want other business to open, but it is a tradition that every relax. There are many conflicts of civilization vs tradition, but the case of fireworks is not. I do agree there should be a time limitation and area limitation though.
I agree that is how you express your exuberance during the festival, nevertheless, the right to have quiet surrounding during midnight need to be respected, furthermore, there is sign prohibits firework from the podium as it comes in proximity with the outter buliding and can cause fire. Is there a safer way to celebrate?
At any rate, think of it as a culture crash.
the article was good.
“Unaware”? You are obviously chinese, how could you not be aware? Your mother even lives in china! cultural clash? there is no cultural clash. We call it “that grumpy man who doesnt enjoy life” clash. heh just kidding. But seriously, even Americans who have never been or even seen a chinese knows how chinese celebrate new years.
I deplore the tone of your comment.
Everybody has the right the protect the lifestyle they enjoy and I am doing it vigorously. Should you find yourself disturbed at your resting hours and your property is invaded, what will you do?
Remember this blog discussed people in Shanghai should bears five virtues and one of them is civilize, looks like it is no match with folkway.
As matter of fact, the New Year I spent in Shanghai four years ago was my first New Year in China and my mother moved to Shanghai three years before that.
“Everybody has the right the protect the lifestyle they enjoy”?
Well Stephen, I don’t know where you’re from, but as a foreigner (which your comments imply that you are) I would think the locals have a stronger right to protect their lifestyle and tradition. They are at home and this is there culture.
Furthermore the “civilization” vs. “tradition” comment is quite condescending. The Chinese, as you probably are aware, have had the longest continuing civilization on this planet. While China is far from perfect, I definitely would give great deference to cultural traditions. Also, the midnight issue is not a really reasonable argument, as during the festival, nearly everyone is awake after midnight celebrating the New Year with your family. Is it uncivilized for New Year’s revelers to be noisy in Times Square in New York, the Champs Elysses in Paris?
Anyway, one of the biggest joys I found living as an expat in Shanghai was experiencing the energy of the local celebration of Chinese New Year. I found it amazing to see this city explode those two nights every year. And if you want to avoid the noise, do what I did last year. There is an incredible view of the fireworks around the city in the bar atop the Westin in Puxi, which is high enough so that you won’t be able to hear the booms.
When one of my ex-boss arrived Shanghai on Chinese new year eve in a skyscraper hotel, the firecrackers did take his breath away… but later he learnt to make fun of it…
on the eve, I managed to sleep after 2 a.m. when they stopped the firecrackers, which was still quite ok… but it was annoying that 6 a.m. they started again…
on the day to welcome the god of fortune, I wondered that would the god of fortune feel too risky to step into a door/window bombed with firecrackers, so choose to land in a quiet family ;-) ? a second thought, maybe the god of fortune already learnt to sneak through in between after all so many years…
I like the beautiful fireworks that bring up the atmosphere, not too much the firecrackers. But people are not crazy about the firecrackers everyday, it’s not so bad to live with it if most of the people love that.
I’m surprised to have found this interesting discussion on “civilization” vs “tradition” under the search title of “God of Fortune”.
Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is celebrated by almost all Chinese around the world. In some cities outside China, it can be a festive time for all their citizens regardless of their race, birthplace, creed or religion.
One of these cities is Vancouver in Canada. Canadians do respect diversity of cultural mosaics and enjoy cross-cultural traditions.
In Vancouver, Chinese New Year is the most celebrated Chinese Festival. Each year, the Spring Festival Parade in Chinatown is a great attraction. Over thirty thousand spectators would crowd into Chinatown. God of Fortune always lead the parade, followed by government officials, city celebrities, dancers in magnificient ethnic costumes, drummers, bands, lions and dragons accompanied by drums and gongs, and exploding firecrackers. The unique parade brings the New Year celebration to a climax, symbolizing that all evils and bad lucks have been expelled, every bystander is showered with blessings of good health and longevity, happiness and good luck, wealth and prosperity.