Thursday, September 30, 2010

Holiday Season

For most of my friends, what we know as the holiday season starts in November with Thanksgiving, continues through to Black Friday until Christmas and New Year's top it off. Most of it is based on shopping and family, but mostly shopping, since that's what TV has conditioned us to frenzy over at this time. And of course food, where we gorge ourselves on Turkey, Ham, dressing, and whatever fast food is at mall food courts.

This year it feels a bit like the holiday season, just drastically different. Though Spring Festival is the biggest holiday here and not until February, two other major holidays are happening now in our midst here. ZhongQiuJie (Mid-Autumn Festival) was last week and is akin to Thanksgiving. A short 2 day holiday weekend that is mostly about food (gross moon cakes, filled with ham, fruit, egg or tofu) and a tradition of looking at the moon at night to remember family that can't be present as they are also most likely staring at the moon remembering you. It's a nice, quaint tradition.

Today is GuoQingJie. Otherwise known as "New China Day" or "Chinese Independence from the Capitalist Roaders of the Kuomingtang and the Counter-Revolutionary, Chiang Kai-Chek, and the Harmonious Opening of the People's Republic of China." So the last one I made up, but it is essentially our July 4th. Students get from October 1st-October 7th off to celebrate. I am celebrating by doing some traveling and remembering why America is so great. This year, I'm skipping a lot of the Mao-love and taking it as an opportunity to study for language class and relax a bit as many students will be at home with their families (maybe looking at the moon together this time).

One of the interesting parts about this holiday (and every other holiday here) is that students have to "BuKe." Literally, we all have to make up classes that we miss for, you guessed it, the holidays that we are given off. This often means going to class on Saturdays and Sundays before and after the holidays. This has yet to make sense to me.

If there's one way to get people to hate you it's to make them work on holidays. Look at every Christmas movie. The reason a main character is either the miser or the victim, its because they have to work on Christmas Eve. Scrooge, Elf's real dad, Jimmy Stewart, (not to mention when Lumburgh makes Peter work on Saturday and Sunday in Office Space...yeeeeaaaah...) they all are shown to be cruel/be down on their luck because of this holiday work clause (no pun intended). And yet, my neighbors here haven't seemed to learn this lesson yet. Why not just not have a holiday and let people keep their weekends? Wouldn't it cause less resentment for 8 hour class days on Sunday weren't happening? Wouldn't it make you dread the holiday season knowing that you'd have to cram in more class soon after? You'd think it'd be better to align everyone with New China to have them look forward to the opportunity to play Warcraft 24 hours in a row at the net bars instead of studying beginner's English during that time.

But what do I know? They've done it this way for a long time and I'm not about to go changing everyone's paradigms of what's normal. This is definitely a case of "It's not wrong, just different" that I keep having to get used to.

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