The Chinese New Year celebration party 春节联欢晚会 (concert) is held once a year, right on new year's eve. I have no idea how long this national tradition has been going on for, but for as long as I can remember, it has always been like this. It's a state organized (I'm pretty sure) event that's broadcasted by CCTV (Television network of the People's Republic of China).
Each year, this event starts at 8pm sharp on new year's eve, and lasts 4.5 hours until 12:30 am. During this time, the entire Chinese nation tunes into this celebration - entire families will gather around the tv and watch the Chinese new year celebration concert until the count down to the new year.
The celebration show runs for 4.5 hours straight, with no commercial interruptions at all, where probably over 1billion Chinese viewers are tuned in. I don't know if any other show in the world would have this much audience? According to Chinese statistics, this Chinese new year's even celebration broadcast has a reception rate of about 94% and an approval rating of about 84%. So, about 94% of Chinese family are tuned into this show.
Move over Mah Jong, it's Chinese New Year celebration broadcast time. Even mahjong takes a back seat to the new year's celebration broadcast.
Chinese New Year Party, Final Count Down - It's Time for Fireworks!!
From around 9am in the morning, there has been fireworks and firecrackers going off non-stop around the city, and as it neared end of the day (year), it got more intense. Around 11:45pm, I began preparing our fireworks and firecrackers to welcome the new year. As I mentioned in my previous article, I had spent almost $900yuan of fireworks for our family's celebration. I had purchase 2 chains of 3,000 rounds of firecrackers, and I was securing 1 chain to a long pole we had lying around.
By this time, things around the city became almost chaotic - the intense sound of firecrackers going of around the city is something that I've never seen before.
Fireworks going off everywhere. A thick layer of smoke has already formed covering the entire city.
Around 11:55pm, our family gather around on our balcony, and we were ready to light the firecrackers. As the clock stuck 12:00am, we set the firecrackers on fire. I stuck the firecracker chain out from the balcony as far as I could, and it was deafening loud. At this time, the true sounds of Chinese New Year's celebration could be heard across the entire nation. I thought it was crazy at 11:55pm, but woah, at 12:00am it was utter chaos. Unimaginable and almost terrifying - the sheer amount of firecrackers going off at this time was unbelievable.
Here's me getting more fireworks out of the box. As you can see, there's thick layer of blue smoke everywhere from the fireworks.
Imagine setting off a chain a firecrackers, now multiply this effect several thousand times, and you feel as if you're standing in an ocean of firecrackers going off - there's absolutely no where to go to avoid the loud noises. At the same time, people everywhere are setting off fireworks of all sorts, and the entire night sky is lit up with red, green, blue, orange, and all types of colors.
Everyone's on the balcony shooting off fireworks of all sorts.
These few photos are taken from my cousin's much more professional digital camera. My little fuji finepix would not be able to get photos of this quality like these.
After the chaos settled down somewhat, a thick, thick layer of blue smoke, and smell of fireworks engulfed the entire city. I would imagine all of China to be like this.
Traditional Chinese New Year Food & Snacks
It took about an hour to fire off about half of the fireworks I bought. The other half, we'll use it up on new year's day. It was around 1:15am when everyone headed back inside, and it was time for a late night Chinese new year snack which always includes two items: noodles and 汤圆 tang yuan (glutinous rice balls with sweet stuffing). These two together are called "Ying si, Yuan Bao" meaning silver strings and round treasures. Noodles represent long life, and Tang yuan represent unity and harmony.
Preparing noodles for a late night snack.
A small bowl of sicy sichuan noodles for welcoming the Chinese new year.
Tang yuan (sweet glutinous rice balls) - another traditional Chinese new year food.