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Showing posts with label Holidays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holidays. Show all posts

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Knockoffs, Cars, and an Electric Chair: Paper Replicas to Burn for the Qingming Festival

store selling paper replicas of items to burn for the Qingming Festival
Shop in Jiangmen, Guangdong, selling paper replicas to burn for the spirit world


Last year in Guangzhou during the Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day, I saw many people spend at least part of the day doing something not part of the spiritual side of the day, such as spending time at pedestrian shopping street. But it still wasn't hard to find people observing the holiday, such as a family burning paper replicas of iPhones, clothing, money, and other objects to send to their ancestors in the afterlife — part of a common Qingming tradition, as is visiting grave sites.

Like in Guangzhou, today on the holiday's return I saw many people in Jiangmen simply enjoying the day off or working as usual. I didn't happen to stumble upon any burnings. And I didn't visit any graveyards. But this afternoon I did pass one shop selling paper replicas to burn. They may have already sold out of some items, but they still had a varied selection.

As I saw in Guangzhou, there was clothing for sale. And of course there was plenty of the traditional ghost money.

ghost money and paper replicas of suits


Shoes were available as well.

paper shoes


You were in luck if you wanted to send shoes with a matching knockoff "Louiis Vuitton" bag.

paper "Louiis Vuitton" bags


There were also combo packs which included all-important smartphones.

boxes contain a variety of paper replicas including smartphones and jewelry


And a collection of cars was available.

paper replicas of cars


paper replicas of cars for the Qingming Festival


The cars depict people inside, which raises the question of whether burning them sends both the car and the people to the spirit world. I would honestly be curious to hear experts' views on this.

While there are other ways people remember and honor their ancestors during the Qingming Festival, the practice of burning paper replicas presents an intriguing intersection of spiritualism, materialism, and pragmatism. Whatever the ultimate result of the offerings, at the very least they express that one hasn't forgotten the departed and can help keep some memories alive.

Finally, there was one item for sale that left me briefly puzzled, because at first I wasn't sure what it was. And then I realized . . .

paper replicas of a massage armchair


Who in the spirit world wouldn't want to relax in a deluxe massage chair?

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Return to the New Year

The day after International Women's Day many of the related promotions at stores and restaurants were over, though some continued. For Topsports, that meant a return to the "Happy New Year" spirit, even though 2018 began two and half months ago and the current Year of the Dog began almost a month ago.

2018 Happy New Year sign at Topsports in Jiangmen


 May Day is just so far away . . .

Friday, March 9, 2018

Food, Shoes, and Jewelry: International Women's Day Sales Promotions in Jiangmen, China

In past year's I have shared some of the International Women's Day sales promotions I have come across in Zhongshan, in Jieyang, and in Guangzhou. At the moment I happen to be in Jiangmen —another city in Guangdong province. So yesterday I spent some time walking through several shopping malls and nearby shopping areas in the city. There was no shortage of promotions for the holiday, though many stores had no sales or had unrelated sales, including lingering Lunar New Year promotions.

As in past years, one noticeable aspect of the promotions were the various names used to identify the day. Yet I didn't see a single example where the standard Chinese translation for International Women's Day, 妇女节, was used. Instead, Chinese names which would translate as "Goddess Day" (女神) and "Queen's Day" (女王) were common. Some places went with "女人节" which could also translate to "Women's Day" in English. And a number of stores included the day's name in English, often going with "Queen's Day" or "Women's Day".

Chen Yan in Sixth Tone mentions a possible explanation for why the formal name in Chinese was avoided:
More and more young Chinese women are shunning International Women’s Day, a problem that is partially due to nomenclature. Women’s Day is translated as funüjie, a word that contains a term that youngsters increasingly use to refer to older, married women and that connotes a certain frumpiness and a lack of sophistication.
That still might not fully explain the choice of Watson's — a health & beauty care chain store. They went with "我们节" which could be translated as "Our Day", seemingly quite a big difference in meaning. But there's a catch. Written in pinyin, the first two characters are "Wo men".

Watsons Women's Day promotion


Just to be sure, I asked an employee and she confirmed that indeed "Wo Men's Day" referred to International Women's Day and was a cross-language pun. At the very least, it strikes me as a curious choice.

Whatever name stores settled on, the promotions went on.

So if you were seeking a Women's Day special for Californian-style food in Jiangmen yesterday, you were in luck.

Hey Farm restaurant Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen


Other Western-style food options were available as well.

Seasons restaurant Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen


Seeking something Asian? Well, there was Thai.

Thai restaurant Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen


And if you wanted Yunnan-style, there were options as well.

Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen


Baked goods? No problem.

Madeli bakery Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen



Some tea? Loving Tea beckoned the goddesses.

Loving Tea Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen


Shiny Tea did as well.

Shiny Tea Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen


Seeking something simple and healthy? There was a fruit store that didn't miss out on the day.

Fruit store Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen


There were many options for clothing.

YMR clothing store Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen

G2000 Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen

OU Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen

Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen


Shoes and hand bags were on sale too.

Losiny Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen

Losiny Queen's Day promotion in Jiangmen

Dusto Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen

ZuSOON Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen

Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen

Topsports Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen


Glasses? No problem.

Loho Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen


Along with a number of other jewelry stores, both China Gold and Hong Kong Gold had promotions.

China Gold Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen

Hong Kong Gold Women's Day promotion in Jiangmen


Seeking health & beauty care products without a "Wo Men" theme? Mannings, a chain similar to Watsons, went with the more typical "Queen's Day".

Manning's Queen Day promotion in Jiangmen


And, yes, you could go to the supermarket for some Goddess Day savings.

Vanguard Empress Day promotion in Jiangmen


Finally, while several nail salons I passed didn't have a promotion for the day, IMP Nails was ready for Queen's Day.

IMP Nails Queen Day promotion in Jiangmen


So finding an International Women's Day deal in Jiangmen, and elsewhere in China, wasn't at all hard yesterday. But not everybody in China thought that was a good thing. And so on International Women's Day, some feminists who criticized how the day was observed were censored.

The promotions went on though.

Friday, March 2, 2018

A Resting Red Lion Head in Jiangmen

The end of the Lunar New Year holiday period means less work for dancing lions.

head of a red traditional Chinese lion costume


For this blog, it marks an imminent return to some old topics and more writing. And while there aren't any lions in store for the near future, a friendly bear might make an appearance.

Monday, February 26, 2018

New Year and Love at the Musa Club in Jiangmen

I have shared examples of how the close proximity of Valentine's Day and the Lunar New Year has had an impact this year, whether at a shopping mall in Taipei or a fair in Macau. I recently saw yet another example at a club in Jiangmen, Guangdong.

Musa Club in Jiangmen


Two signs made it clear that both holidays were in consideration for their celebrations February 14-16.





And, of course, there was recognition it would soon be the Year of the Dog.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Dogs, Lions, and Inflatable Israeli Hammers: The Macau Lunar New Year Festival at Tap Seac Square

Dog lantern display at Tap Seac Square
Dog-themed display part of the Lunar New Year festivities at Tap Seac Square in Macau

Recently Macau held a Lunar New Year fair at Tap Seac Square, a regular event there since 2009. I visited the fair last Wednesday and was interested to compare it to the Lunar New Year fairs I have seen in Taipei and in Hong Kong.

Macau Lunar New Year Market at Tap Seac Square
Part of the Lunar New Year Market at Tap Seac Square

In general, with the exception of it lacking any political activism, I found it more similar to what I saw in Hong Kong due to the many aspects which weren't specific to the Lunar New Year and more like a typical fair. That said, there was still plenty which clearly tied to the holiday.

For example, a number of the stalls had a distinct dog theme — appropriate for the upcoming Year of the Dog.

stall selling dog-themed items at Tap Seac Square Lunar New Year Market


stall selling dog-themed items at Tap Seac Square Lunar New Year Market


One of those stalls, though, rebelled a bit by including the slogan "I Like Cats More" on their sign.

stall selling dog-themed items with the slogan "I Like Cats More"


Accordingly, a number of doggish items were on sale, which meant that some people left with a new inflatable pet.

girl pulling inflatable dog on wheels


Some items mixed aspects of the holiday: for example, dog-themed pinwheels.

various pinwheels including several with dog themes


And as is traditional in this region of China, the market included many flowers for sale.

flowers for sale at Tap Seac Square Lunar New Year Market


Ample photographic opportunities were available. One popular option was having your photo taken with a cheerful God of Wealth.

people taking a photograph with person in a God of Wealth costume


people taking a photo with somebody in a God of Wealth costume


The biggest difference between my experience at this fair and others elsewhere was the number of live performances. While I was there, two Chinese orchestras performed.

Chinese orchestra performance at Macau Lunar New Year Fair


And, not surprisingly, nearby traditional drums came out as well.

traditional Chinese drum performance


This was a clear sign a lion dance was at hand. The performance was entertaining for most everyone except a snake that didn't fare so well.

black Chinese lion


Red Chinese lion looking at a scroll and stuffed snake
Lion vs. Snake

Red Chinese lion holding a banner
Snake now in the lion's belly

White Chinese lion dancing
Lion vs. Me?


Other aspects of the fair weren't so traditional or specific to the Lunar New Year. There were several food stalls offering items which would be common at a night market, including one with black cuttlefish sausage.

menu in Chinese with various items


For reasons I can't explain, they didn't have a giant black cuttlefish sausage on hand like I saw at the Lunar New Year festival in Taipei.

There was also a clown modeling balloons — as usual, a hit with children.

Clown modeling balloons for children


Reminiscent of the giant stuffed cigarettes I saw for sale at a Lunar New Year fair in Hong Kong, I found that some items for sale made me do a double take.

inflatable hammers and hands with symbols from Israeli flag


If you were looking for inflatable hands and hammers with an Israeli theme, it was your lucky day.

And finally, the day I went to the fair was February 14 — Valentine's Day. In the spirit of that other holiday some people were selling heart-shaped red balloons.

people selling red heart-shaped balloons


One of the things I personally enjoyed about the fair, at least during my time there, was it had a good crowd but wasn't packed to the point where moving around was difficult — an issue I faced at times in both Taipei and Hong Kong. The fair unexpectedly captivated me for long enough that by the time I left the Macanese restaurant where I had planned to eat dinner had already closed.

I should have picked up some black cuttlefish sausage before leaving. I didn't even get to eat a stuffed snake.



Added note: As pointed out by a reader, Valentine's Day may have also influenced the name of one of the dog-themed stalls that appears in the photos above. "單身狗" includes the Chinese character for dog and is unflattering / self-deprecating slang for a person who is single. The reader wrote, "I guess one of the stalls got away with the sarcastic flavor."