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“So, how do I know that it’s Spring Festival?”

February 13, 2012

As we described elsewhere, the proliferation of fireworks peddlers is a major clue, especially when Spring Festival begins, and there are fireworks to wake you up every morning, and to send you off to sleep at night.

But there are other developments; for example, the mass transport of humans across China leading up to Spring Festival makes America’s day before Thanksgiving look like Sunday-morning traffic: everyone in the country who has ever moved away from his or her hometown must now trundle back, sending the nation’s travel infrastructure into a battered state of back-breaking proportions.

Here’s an image of the Dalian railway station, though this is before the peak of the mass exodus out of town:

Dalian Railway Station

 The station is on the right; most of what you’re seeing in the middle is the station’s parking lot. At several positions around the station, buses line up to take the long-distance arrivals to their local suburban or rural hometowns.

What other clues tell the traveler that Spring Festival is imminent? The color red is a pretty good indication, especially when combined with street decorations:

Ordinary sidewalks get a change of clothes for Spring Festival.

The spaces inside the decorations were later used as stalls for a street fair in which the peddling of books was the central attraction. Of course, one might think that the multitude of nearby department stores and malls would provide sufficient shopping choices, but in China, there’s always room for more!

For further clues, one might take a look at the ornate display at Dalian’s Renmin Square (formerly “Stalin Square”; funny how those names are quietly changed over time):

Spring Festival Decorations at Dalian’s Renmin Square

(Bear in mind that red was the color of China’s vision of good luck long before the communists adopted it as the official party color.)

Finally, there’s one clue that never fails to tell you if it’s Spring Festival at the present moment: take a 360-degree look at your surroundings, and if all the shops are closed, it’s definitely SPRING FESTIVAL!

In China, closed shops means “Open Spring Festival”

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