Gearing Up For Celebrations: China’s National Day

 
  National Day Holiday is Nearly Upon Us          
 
             October 1st, China’s National Day, is nearly upon us.
             On October 1st, 1949, the PRC was established.  This year marks the 60th anniversary of the country’s founding so you can imagine all the hoopla that’s been leading up to this coming Thursday.
             All around the city for the past week, banners have been waving high from government buildings, hotels, restaurants, department stores, schools and universities and so on. All proclaim warm wishes to the motherland for its 60th birthday.  Also taking a prominent place throughout Chengdu have been flags.  All shapes and sizes of the Chinese flag can be seen at every turn.  They hang from building tops, dangle from windows, flutter from car radio antennae, motorbikes and bicycles.  The weekend brought out the flag sellers, their 3-wheeled pedal bikes loaded with flags stuck into styrofoam, all for the patriotic passers-by.  They sold for 40 cents to a dollar, depending on the size you wanted.  I expect on the day itself, the flag sellers be out in grand numbers making a great profit for China’s 60th.
           Celebrations during the last 2 weeks have included grand concerts of Chinese folk dancing, famous singers, dramatic poetry readings, children’s patriotic performances, orchestra and choral numbers on a magnificent scale.
           Also included around Chengdu have been numerous singing contests, something like a Chinese Idol, where locals can take the stage and sing until the judges literally "gong" them out of the running for a prize.  Every evening in Jalin’s home, her father and I have been watching that day’s contestants.  The stage is outside in the open and anyone can stand in line to sing.  Those who sing for 60 seconds without the gong choose yellow balloons which are popped.  Inside are slips of paper with either "Thanks for participating" or a money amount.  Those who sing over 90 seconds pick from the blue balloons which have higher prize amounts inside, from $100 to 300.
           Granted, not many make it to the 90 seconds as most are pretty horrendous singers.  It doesn’t matter, however, as everyone has a good time (including the judges) and since the contests are all fore-runners to National Day, the holiday spirit is quite strong.  Whether you get gonged or not, everyone leaves smiling.
           The holidays for National Day run from Oct. 1 to Oct. 8, meaning that Jalin is free during those days.  We already have plans to visit Ji Ke (Jason) in his village on October 1st.  He’s invited some of his friends to join us and Jalin is considering bringing a classmate as well.  It will be a good opportunity for her to get outside of the city.  Living the life of a high school student is tiring and not at all pleasant.  I’m hoping this outing together with me will make the holiday a bit more special for her other than doing the tons of homework she’ll be assigned.
 
About The Chinese Flag
 
        I’m sure as you watch TV in the States, you’ll come across the Chinese flag during the National Day festivities that are covered on our news networks.  Here’s a little FYI about the flag itself.
       While there have been several Chinese national flags throughout history, today’s flag was introduced in 1949, when the People’s Republic of China was formed. China’s original flag, introduced in 1872, featured a blue dragon on a yellow background.  After the 1911 revolt, the flag changed to five different colored stripes.

         Today’s flag features five stars in the left-hand corner — one large star surrounded by four smaller stars — on a red background.  The red background is known as China’s traditional color and dates back to the Han Dynasty in 206 B.C., but also represents the Communist revolution.  The large star represents Communism, while the four smaller stars represent the Chinese people’s social classes.  These four classes are peasants, workers, petty bourgeoisie, and patriotic capitalists.  Also, the total number of stars adds up to five, which has always been an important number in Chinese philosophy.

 
Bits and Pieces:  News from The Week
 
Jalin’s Aerobic Competion
 
            One National Day activity which took place last Saturday morning dealt with Jalin.
            A month ago, Jalin was selected by her teacher to participate in an aerobics contest among local schools in her education district.  This was to promote health and well-being of young people as China entered its 60 years of existence.
            Jalin’s school had 3 teams of girls to enter while other schools chose from their students.  Saturday morning, the competition began in a small neighborhood square on an erected stage.  Jalin’s mom and I went to watch her performance and cheer her on.  There were 4 categories of student teams, from elementary to high school, and each team had an 8-9 minute routine to show the judges. 
            Despite the drizzle and the chilly weather, everyone did their best and no one slipped on the wet, slick stage.  Jalin’s team had a score of 8.4 out of 10. Not the best but certainly not the worst.
 
Mid-Autumn Festival Coming
 
              While October 1st marks China’s founding, October 3rd has us also celebrating another big day in China:  Mid-autumn Festival or Moon Festival.  
           This is a gathering of families together to watch the full moon rise, enjoy community time together and eat the many varieties of mooncakes available in China today.  Mooncakes consist of a pastry-like outside and a sweet filling inside.  The fillings run from traditional (red bean paste, pine nuts, hardboiled egg yokes, peanuts) to more modern style middles (chocolate, fruit jams, ice cream). 
          Every year, these mooncakes grow more ostentatious in their packaging, designs and flavors. They appear in every shop, department store, specialty sidewalk stalls, and grocery around the country.  In Chengdu, there is a monstrous selling hall filled with mooncakes from different Asian countries and regions.  Anyone can go to sample mooncakes from Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, and even Japan, then decide which they wish to buy for relatives or friends. 
         Tomorrow, I plan to visit this gigantic Mooncake Palace.  I’ll be sure to add pictures to this site when I’ve returned.
 
Kitty Updates
 
         Two weeks ago, a bleeding, wounded, crying, wet kitty landed in my hotel room. 
         Two weeks later, Kitty is enjoying the life of a full belly, comfy nesting spots atop pillows, crazy racing sessions around the room, stalking stints after Little Flower and shoulder perches on Connie while she watches T.V.  His wound has healed nicely, thanks to the anti-biotic spray, and while there’ll be a scar, it won’t be too big.
         As the days ticked downward to my October 5th departure, I was worrying about where Kitty would go.  After a visit to Dr. Qiu’s clinic this afternoon, however, all worries are gone.
         Little Flower’s vet, Dr. Q, said he’d be happy to have Kitty around as a clinic cat.  He has one already, a female which he spayed last year, so this will be his male addition.  Dr. Q will make sure his vaccinations are completed and he is fixed.  He’ll roam about freely, come and go as he wishes, and have a happy life among the staff and with Dr. Q. 
        And the greatest thing about this new home is that I’ll be able to check up on him during my visits to Chengdu in the future. 
        In the meantime, Kitty stays with me so I can enjoy our last days together.  I’m sure jealous Little Flower would rather he left immediately but she’ll have me all to herself soon enough.  For now, she can just put up with Kitty until I turn him over on Sunday.
 
          Until next time, here’s wishing all my Chinese readers a Happy National Day and Mid-autumn Festival!  And to all others, Ping An (Peace) for your week.
 
 Connie Wieck

             Guangxi Normal University for Nationalities
             125 Dushan Road
              Longzhou County, Chongzuo City
              Guangxi  532400
              P.R. of China
 
 

About connieinchina

I have been in the Asia region for 18 years as an English language teacher. 13 of those have been spent with the Amity Foundation, a Chinese NGO that works in all areas of development for the Chinese people. Amity teachers are placed at small colleges throughout China as instructors of English language majors in the education field. In other words, my students will one day be English teachers themselves in their small villages or towns once they graduate. Currently, this is my second year in Guangxi Province at the 3-year college, Guangxi Normal University for Nationalities. The college is located in smalltown longzhou, 1 hour from the Vietnam border.
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