Today, March 4th, is the birthday of Song Meiling, daughter of one of the wealthiest families in China. Born in China, educated in America, and married to General Chiang Kai-shek. Her two other sisters had equally glorious lives, one married into a family of equally great wealth and worldwide interests in banking. The other, Qingling, married Dr. Sun Yat-sen, a revolutionary and the first president China.
Song Meiling was beautiful and well-spoken, and was well-known to people around the world during the World War II as she and her husband rallied support from the allied governments, fought against the Japanese invaders, and tried stop the rise of the communists China. They fought bravely, but a great number of communist sleeper spies planted in many parts of the government and military just got up joined the communists in their fight for power. Song Qingling stayed in China. Song Meiling and Chiang Kai-shek and their nationalist loyalists retreated to the island of Taiwan to re-arm and re-take China. It never happened. She died a recognized war hero in NYC at the age of 106 years old.
An old taxi driver told me for the old folks Chinese New Years hasn’t passed until the 15 lunar day after the Lunar New Year. That day is known as Lantern Festival. Actually, Lantern Festival is more of a kick than Chinese New Years. There are lantern making contests and eating round moon-shaped dumplings.
You hear this song all over the place on Chinese New Years.
People greet each other by saying “Congratulations to you” (Gongxi ni) . It is traditionally spoken to congratulate others for survival the monster that goes New Years Eve. The firecrackers are traditionally set up to scare him away. The phrase in often followed by “Good Fortune” (Fa cai). “Gongxi Facai.”
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.