Monday, February 09, 2009

Yuyuan Night Festival

Chinese New Year happened recently, it's the first day of Spring according to China's incredibly confusing, traditional Lunar-based calendar. Like the Western New Year, it's marked from the first day of the first month, however the actual holiday lasts for a week (officially), and often two weeks (with private vacation time) – more or less corresponding from the New Moon to the Full Moon, two weeks later.

To celebrate all of this, the shopping center surrounding Yuyuan Gardens, which is kind of Shanghai's equivalent to Pier 39, puts on a big display of lights. I don't have much more to say about this, so mostly this update will just be some pictures I've taken – some of the pictures were taken at last year's Year of the Rat celebration, some were taken at this year's Year of the Cow celebration, but really the two celebrations were pretty much the same.

The alleyways of the corny tourist shopping center were covered with lights, in a red paper covering that all looks stereotypically Chinese, there were rows after rows of them:

And there were sporadic parades through the grounds, with people dressed as traditional Chinese gods, or more commonly as silly Cow mascots. It was hard to get a picture of this, here's as good as I could get:

Even though the grounds are fenced up with an admission fee of thirty kuai (about $4.50), the place is still open for business, although business at most places, surprisingly enough, doesn't seem especially fast. I'll try to talk about one of these food stalls, Nanxiang Xiaolongbao, in an upcoming blog. Here's a small snack stall:

As stated before, the whole place was covered with lights. The nexus was the famous nine-turn bridge, right outside the actual entrance to Yuyuan Gardens. It was too crowded to seriously contemplate entering, but here's a quick picture:

Police were out in force, probably to keep an eye out for pick-pockets. They also did a lackadaisical job of driving away vendors selling things on the street - mostly the vendors sold silly light-up cow horns. When they saw the police, they would run the other direction. The police occasionally yelled at them, but didn't give chase. They could also be seen admiring the lights themselves:

I'm writing this all in the past tense, but the real last day of Chinese New Year's is tonight, so let me take the opportunity to wish all my gentle readers a happy Year of the Cow!

No comments: