Sunday, January 10, 2010

Christmas and New Year's in Hangzhou

In keeping with my tradition of doing all blog posts several weeks or months after the event happens, here is my Christmas and New Year's blog post. Since Christmas isn't a major holiday in China, I didn't get much vacation and wasn't able to go home for Christmas for the first time in my life. While I tried my best to enjoy the holiday season, it's just not the same without being at home. However, my family did send me a lot of the Christmas fare that I normally enjoy, which made things nicer.

 The Christmas Care Package Spread from My Family

There were a few Christmas celebrations in Hangzhou that I visited. The Sunday before Christmas there was an international Christian group's Christmas show. I didn't really know what to expect, but I figured I would at least check it out.  When I arrived, I was greeted with some raucous Christmas caroling. The music was of the get up and dance variety that we normally associate with some of the black churches in the US. It turns out that there are a large number of Africans in Hangzhou, from an array of countries such as Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Kenya. Besides that, there were a lot of people from other countries in Asia, Europe, South America, and even the good old USA. Together all these people have formed the Christian group in Hangzhou and helped to organize the event. There were probably over 200 people at the show. I have to say that the singing was fun to sit back and listen to, although they kept trying to make me get up to clap and sing along, something I was unwilling to oblige.

The first half of their Christmas show was a lot of fun with the singing, but the second half consisted of a nativity play that was done through modern dance. That part kind of lost me, since there wasn't any speaking and only strange dancing to new age music. Overall, though, it was fun to see and it was definitely the most international event I've been to in Hangzhou. I had no idea there were so many people from all over the world in Hangzhou, since normally I seldom see many foreigners in my normal day to day life. Unfortunately, I didn't think to bring my camera to this Christmas show, so I have no photographic evidence to back up my claims.

On Christmas Eve, there was a big Christmas party at this Euro-American Center in Hangzhou. It was advertised on the local expat forum, so I expected somewhat of a low-key event with mostly foreigners attending. However, I was once again duped into going to a event that was anything but low key and of which 99% where Chinese. The lines for all the games were way too long to be worth playing and there were of course huge crowds for the show they had. I don't know why I expected anything different, because that's how it always is here.

Santa Does Come to China

Large Plastic Christmas Tree

Some Christmas Caroling

Chinese Christmas Punk Band?

Santa Giving Some Gifts

Just a Few People Here for the Party

On Christmas day, I didn't really do anything too special. Just watched some Christmas movies and took the day off work. That weekend, however, it actually snowed in Hangzhou for the first time since I've been in China. So at least I got to have a little snow for Christmas. It was nice to see some snowflakes falling, but it wasn't cold enough for much to stick on the ground, so it was all gone by the end of the day.

Snowflakes from My Window

One week later was of course New Year's. Since China has the separate Chinese New Year, there isn't much celebration for the other New Year. I'd say that since the holidays in China are few and far between and extremely crowded for traveling, so far they're getting about a D- in holidays. During the weekend after New Year's, I headed to the lake because we'd been having a small stretch of warm weather. Luckily, I was there in time for some nice views during the sunset over the lake.

So those were my holidays this year in China. It was fun, but not quite the same as being at home and with family. Hope everyone else enjoyed their holidays and wish everyone a great start to 2010!

Some more pictures:


Phil Dawsey said...

Is santa chinese?!

Those sunset pictures are really pretty.

Ryan and Nicole said...

It looks like you are having an awesome time there! Your pictures are so cool, I'm jealous. And that tall Chinaman was kinda freakish (I mean that in a nice way).

pilrezsa said...

I can't even think about Hangzhou without sweating through my shirt, let alone picture snow on the ground! You've inspired me to actually update my blog...I'm about 3 months behind.