Preparing for Easter Traditions in China

 
 

Coloring Eggs: A Trial Run

 

            Every good teacher knows if you’re trying something new, better have a trial run first. 

            Since this entire week is going to be evening egg coloring for all my classes, I needed a testing session to make sure things would go smoothly.  Thus my regular Saturday  3 p.m. play-date with the neighborhood kids became the guinea pig session for coloring  Easter eggs.

            Sure, I’ve colored eggs before, and even done so with the students in my former placement, Luzhou.   Since finding food dyes in China is virtually impossible, I had a fairly good supply of them from the States that had lasted for 6 years.   Knowing I was running out, during this past winter holiday’s trip to America, I made sure to head down the bakery aisles of my local IGA to buy more. 

            Surprise!

            No longer did dyes come in the liquid variety I’d used for years.  Now we had something new:  food dye gels.

            The directions were the same:  use ½ cup boiling water, 1 teaspoon vinegar plus a teaspoon of  dye.  But the gooey gel seemed weird to me.  Would the colors be as vibrant? Would the gel dissolve?  Would the dyes mix to create different colors? Would the tubes last as long as the old variety?    

            As it turned out, the trial run was a great success.  In fact, I chose a good day for such an activity.  One of my 12-year old regulars brought 4 new friends with her to my home.  How nice to have something worthy for them to do to make their visit more meaningful.    

            Each chose an egg and one of the 6 different colors offered to enjoy their first time doing this particular American Easter tradition.  I explained the longer the eggs are left in the cup, the darker the colors would be.

            While we waited, we drank cola and ate cookies.  Every so often, we’d check to see how the eggs were doing.  Eventually, we figured they’d had long enough.  After drying, the kids wrote “Happy Easter” in Chinese and English on their eggs and placed small stickers on them.  Everyone received a plastic party bag to put their egg in before they left.  There were a lot of smiles at my doorway as they departed and happy chatter running down the stairwell on their way out.

            I can just imagine all the stories they told to their parents about their visit with the foreign teacher when they went home later on.  I’m hoping the same mood and stories will prevail among my college crowd.          

           

Getting Ready for the  Jelly Bean Contests

 

            Along with preparing for my Easter unit’s egg coloring night came prep work for the jelly bean contests.

            I’ve been saving plastic bottles for a week to get enough for 7 classes.  Yesterday evening, I opened one 5-pound bag of jelly beans to begin counting them into the bottles.  I realize I could very well just fill a bottle and make up a number for the contest but that’s not any fun.  Besides, I’m curious as to how many can go into a 20-ounce bottle.

            So far, the bottles hold anywhere between 560 -590 beans. At this point,  I’ve discovered a 5-pound bag has taken care of 4 bottles at (roughly)  1,800 jelly beans per bag.

             Just 3 more bottles to go . . . and 2 more bags of jelly beans.

            Hmmmm.

             Obviously, someone got a little over-enthusiastic about buying Easter candy.  10 pounds would have been plenty but I have 15!   

            Guess that last bag I’ll be saving for next year, or leave out for the students to enjoy this week as they come to color eggs.

 

A Present for Myself:  Easter Lilies

 

             Jelly beans, basket, stuffed rabbits, colored eggs, . . . the last item in my home missing for Easter?  The lily. 

            After asking campus locals where flowers could be purchased, I hit upon the Vietnamese language teacher. 

            “Out the back gate. Walk along the river road, under the bridge and about 10 minutes later, you’ll see a small flower shop,” she volunteered.

            Sure enough, a lovely stroll along the narrow road, lined with Longzhou’s ancient Chinese shops, led me to the tiny flower store.  It was sandwiched between numerous other clay tile-roofed, wooden-beamed structures which now held new storefronts and updated interiors to better suit owners in the modern world. 

            Although no white lilies were to be had, there were pink ones.

           $2.00 a stalk gave a customer 3 blooms.  Since the students would be expecting lilies in my home, especially after our lesson on Easter symbols (the lily included), I decided to get four with several large buds yet to unfurl.

            The owner and assistant were quite joyous with such a big sale.  They enthusiastically wrapped them up in pretty floral plastic for me to take home.  

            Living in such a small town, and being the only foreigner, I always receive stares and surprised gawks but nothing like what I had walking back to the campus with my bouquet of flowers.  A foreigner loaded down with an armful of lilies must have been the highlight of everyone’s day.  People pointed, whispered and nudged one another as I bounced along with my Easter present to myself. 

            Whenever our eyes met, I smiled.

            “How beautiful!” they remarked, seeing my friendliness.

             “Easter holiday flowers,” I replied in Chinese.  “Yes, very pretty.”

            Even our gatekeeper, who sits in boredom all day with a sour look and disinterested expression on his face, greeted me with a bit of brightness.

            “Pretty flowers,” he mumbled, nodding approval with his cigarette dangling from his mouth. 

            “Yes.  And fresh, too,” I added and waved.

 

Bringing Easter to Those in China

 

            The lily purchase was my last preparation for the week.  Beginning tomorrow, my students will enjoy the traditional activities that come with our Easter celebrations.

            This is such a joyful time for me here in China as a Christian and foreign language teacher.  What better way to prepare for Christ’s resurrection than to share with others about our Christian faith?   Whether that entails religious or traditional celebrations, all will definitely be remembered by both my Chinese students and myself.

 

            From Longzhou, as always, Ping An (Peace)! 

           

           

           

           

             

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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