Chinese New Years Fireworks

Fireworks are shot on at midnight to traditionally scare away a monster at night and save the people.  Therefore, the next day the Chinese say “Congratulations,” for surviving the  threat of the monster.

Fireworks were outlawed more many years as extravagant and unsafe. Now with their new found wealth and freedom, Chinese go firecracker crazy.  Not just on this night. Eight days later, the money god is supposed to be going through, so business shoot them off again ALL DAY to attract his attention.  Ear muffs are in order.

Ningbo, China

Beijing, China

Drinking at a Chinese Banquet

Come to a banquet early so that the host can seat you where he has planned to.  Before the meal, drink only from the tea or water provided, but not any wine or juices.Then..

The guest of honor is the person ideally sitting facing the door and has a big view of the room and almost always sitting directly across from the host. At the beginning of the meal, s/he cues you when to begin.  S/he raises her glass to one side, and they raise; s/he raises to another side, and they raise. S/he drinks, and everybody drinks. Unless YOU are the guest of honor, don’t eat a bite until the guest of honor, not the host, takes the first bite even if s/he says “Let’s eat,” even if s/he puts some food on your plate. Back to drinking..

During the meal, you will be toasted and you will toast each person or each couple, at least once. It is impolite not to acknowledge people at your table by toasting and returning toasts. A good rule-of-thumb is not to take a sip of anything other than water without toasting someone. If you don’t want to drink alcohol, apologize and tell them anything “I’m driving,” “I’m taking medicine,” or “It is against my religion” and return toasts and toast with your heaviest drink (tea or fruit juice).  To toast someone, say, Wǒ jìng nín.  Followed by gān bēi (bottoms up) or suí (as much as you want). It is prudent to drink water or tea when thirsty and alcohol when being social.

Don’t allow yourself to become the butt of a drinking game, especially when the goal is to get the foreigner drunk, because being publicly drunk is a sign of weakness and loss.  Leave your glass full or almost full so that they can’t keep filling it up. You may cover it with your hand to stop them and say, “Thank you, but I need to take care of my health.”  DON”T turn it upside down.  You may prudently save that last full shot glass until the end of the banquet, or not (if you use sickness or religion for an excuse).

If you happened to have too much, before you go to bed, take an aspirin, a B-complex, and a big glass of water before you go to sleep.  The next day will be more bearable.