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Chinese New Year's Eve

4 February 2011

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There are always fanatic activities around Chinese kitchens in Chinese New Year's Eve when a-week-long preparation for New Year's Eve Dinner is to be concluded. It is particularly so in the villages as family members working in cities return to their roots in rural area.

Peasant woman Cao Linying, of Jiangsu province, illustrates what she has experienced during the New Year's Eve preparation occurred in a typical Jiangnan villager's kitchen.

In her painting, a large brick stove range is set to be the focus of all actions. On the supporting wall, where the Kitchen God's post is traditionally stuck on, a tea pot, a pickle jar, a win bottle and a flower vase have found their respective positions, while on the stove range, one wok with a tall wooden cover is probably having stuffed buns steaming, and in another wok a young lady in blue is cooking a duck with soy source to make a delicious jiangya (酱鸭).

On a black table in the background, pork legs (蹄膀) and poultries are waiting to be processed; in the front on the makeshift yellow tables hot dishes are kept in pots, and the cold dishes normally containing ham, dried beef slices, fried fish chunks, seasoned poultry pieces, roasted peanuts and preserved eggs are displyed in plates which are going to be served as the entree to go with rice wine. Under the tables, fresh green vegetables and white radishes are arranged in rows.

Back to the stove. Behind the supporting wall, a lady in green top is there minding the fire, and the girl in red shirt transports energy resource - the straws - to the fire minder.

Such is a wonderfully dynamic and orderly scene in a traditional Chinese kitchen in Chinese New Year's Eve!

But customs are changing all the time, which is only natural. In the recent 30 years or so, a new activity in New Year's Eve has developed: a specially produced TV show for the most important night in the year has been served as a highly entertaining backdrop for family's reunion conversation, win/tea drinking, snack eating, nuts cracking and firecracker playing activities. The followings are three video clips from this year's TV show that was broadcasted on February 3, 2011, from 8pm to 1am the next morning.


Chinese peasant workers declare to the world: "We, the Workers, Are Strong" (《咱们工人有力量》)

This vigorous dance/singing show is created and presented by a group of peasant workers from Shenzhen. As workers, they received little training, as artists, they received non coach, however, their creative urge is irrepressible and their sense of self-pride has not lost. After a day and a week hard labour, they often gather in Ten Thousand Fortune Square to entertain themselves and to lighten the spirits of other peasant workers.


Chinese youth show the world how to keep delicate balance (Tube Rolling 晃管)

This nerve breaking performance is executed by a group of young professional acrobats.

A brave toddler condemns a spineless official (Henan Opera 豫剧)

It is a joint Chinese Opera performance by artists of Yue Opera (about a cross-dressed Ming Dynasty scholar), Shandong Opera (No cross-dress found), Beijing Opera (All are properly dressed) and Henan Opera (about a cross-dressed military comandar) - some of the artists are highly accomplished while others are just newbies with less than two years of experiences, such as Ms Zhang who only arrived in this human world three years ago.

In the show the three-year-old Zhang Xinyi (张欣怡) played Mulan and rebuked a government official who did not believe a girl being capable of leading a resistant war against external threats. Little Zhang demonstrated to the world that she, an angry youth, was able to stand independetly before 700 million TV audience worldwide (despite in the end she was carried off the stage in someone's arms -- but she did remember to wave a goodbye to audience and managed to return to the stage, standing on her own feet.

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Root of Vegetable

by Daoist Hong Yingming [Ming Dynasty]
洪应明 [明代万历]


The great Dao, the universal virtue, can be found in each family and is manifested in daily life. Your family members are your best teachers helping you to practice compassion and sincerity. If you can achieve harmony in your family, your progress in self-cultivation is well ahead of those who sit all the day meditaiting.

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