Saturday, January 28, 2017

Happy Year of the Chicken!

The number 2017 styled to look like a chicken. Image text: "Chinese New Year, The Year of Chicken." Image source.
Last night was the big Chinese New Year celebration, and today is the first day of the new year. This is the biggest holiday in China. 2017 is 鸡年 (jī nián), the Year of the Chicken. For some reason, in all the English news stories I've seen about it, they translate it as "Year of the Rooster," which is SEXIST AS HELL. That translation erases half the 鸡 (jī) population. #YesAllHens and all that.

Back in 2014 I wrote a post that gave an overview of Chinese New Year traditions, so in this post I'll just talk about a few things unique to this year. First of all, Chinese culture loves puns, so obviously we need to talk about what chicken-related puns are being made during this year's celebration. 鸡 (jī), which means "chicken", sounds like 吉 (jí) which means "lucky", so that's pretty much the basis of this year's puns. So if you happen to meet someone who speaks Mandarin, you can tell them "鸡年大吉  [jī nián dà jí]" ("Wishing you a very lucky Year of the Chicken"). (Hendrix told me another one, "鸡年大吉吧 [jī nián dà jí ba]" which, again, means "wishing you a very lucky Year of the Chicken", but also sort of sounds like "wishing you a big cock in the Year of the Chicken." This is more of a joke that people are sharing on social media, not something you would actually say to someone...)

Last night, we all watched "春晚 [chūnwǎn]" which is the Chinese equivalent of "New Year's Rockin' Eve." (If you're interested, you can go watch the whole thing on the 春晚 youtube channel. It's an amazing showcase of so many diverse cultures within China.) I've picked out a few of the performances I really liked, to show to you all:

I like this one, because have you ever seen so many people dressed as dancing chickens?

Here's a bunch of dancers playing with fire:

Here's more fire:

This one is a good example of just the sheer amount of stuff going on in so many of these performances. There's dancers- several different groups of dancers, with incredibly colorful costumes, dancers hanging from the ceiling, dancers raising a red sheet up and down like water. So much stuff going on.

Here's one from 哈尔滨 Harbin, a city which is famous for building a bunch of buildings entirely out of ice annually:

A second one from Harbin. All the ice dancers seem to  be straight out of a Tron movie? And there is a MIND-BLOWING part where some of them are skating with skates that are on stilts maybe 1-2 feet tall.

This one shows a whole bunch of Chinese New Year traditions, but mostly it's worth watching for the BABY PANDAS:

Here's Jackie Chan singing, along with a bunch of ... extras from an 80's workout video?

Here's two gymnasts competing to see who can bend over completely backwards and pick up the most roses in one minute:

Happy Year of the Chicken, everyone!

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