Friday, February 10, 2012

Monday: Lantern Festival

The sound of gunfire, the smell of sulfur, the windows rattling in their frames all night long--wait...where are we?!?

Ahh, it’s Lantern Festival in Beijing--the final day of the Chinese New Year--several weeks of vacation and celebration, and it’s the last day that it is legal to set off your personal fireworks within the city limits. Everyone, it seems, has been stashing some of the biggest, loudest, fieriest toys just for tonight.

As I was walking back to the hotel from a local grocery store, an eager grandpa laid out an 8ft x 6in strip of red netting . . . I hurried out of the way when he lit the match, shooed his grandson back a safe distance and touched the flame to the strip. Sparks and sizzles and pops flew 10ft in the air for a solid minute, making my ears ring.

Right now, someone is lighting some pretty explosives in the alley behind our hotel and they are shooting over our roof --that’s over 10 stories high! We have ring-side seats from our hotel room window for the shows all over the local neighborhoods.

There’s no doubt that the Chinese invented fireworks!

Tomorrow it will be calm. Tonight we will enjoy the unique experience of being in Beijing on the night of the Lantern Festival. After all, the purpose of this festival is to celebrate and cultivate good relationships--especially among your family. We’re all for that!

Picture: notice the red lanterns hung outside the doorways.

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