Me and Chairman Mao
  How do you like them apples?
Many of you are probably aware that the Year of the Dog is almost upon us. (Note, however, that if your dog is currently upon your leg, that is something completely different.) I think Chinese New Year starts the night of January 28, but I could be wrong. I was wrong once before after all, in the late mid-90s when I should have ordered the chicken, so I'm not infallible like, say, the Pope. But whatever. As you might suspect, dog-based decorations are currently up pretty much everywhere here, including the supermarket. Of course, that in itself is not surprising--ergo the suspected part of that last sentence--but what was surprising is the form those decorations took. I mean, hanging red lanterns? Check. Red envelopes everywhere? Check. Firecracker cutouts? Check. Little cardboard dogs on the wall? Check. Stenciled dogs on apples? Check.

Wait--stenciled what? Yes, stenciled dogs. On apples. Why apples? I have no idea, other than oranges are a bit too rough and pears, while having acceptably smooth skin, just don't have as big of a stencilable area as your average apple. Although when I think about it, I'm not actually sure it's a stencil at all. Well, I mean, it IS a stencil, but I'm not sure how it's made--even after I bought something similar, I couldn't tell. Knowing China, it's probably burned into the apple with benzene or some other cancer-causing substance, but I guess I'll worry about that later.

Anyway, judge for yourself! Here's one of the dog apples in question, right above apples that are, for reasons that are not at all clear to me, insanely expensive:

More of those doggone apples. (Clearly, I am a lover of subtle humor.) I've been told the Chinese characters on the other apples mean "Happy Birthday," possibly with an emphasis on someone who is old, but what that has to do with dogs, apples, and/or Chinese New Year, I have no idea:

However, non-dog apples are apparently also possible during Chinese New Year, which I found out when I walked over to the next aisle in the produce section:

The symbol on the right is "Double Happiness," the meaning of which should, I think, be fairly obvious; the symbol on the left means something like "I hope you get promoted," possibly with a stress on a government job, although I was--as with most things related to this post--a little unclear on the concept. Again, how these things are related to having a good new year, I have no idea, although some pretty obvious connections occur right away. (So obvious, in fact, that I won't bother telling you what they are.) (Would it be too much to say, "So how do you like those apples?" again right now?) (Yeah, I thought so, too.) (Never mind.)

And ... I guess that's about it. Such an information packed post, I know. Although I will point out that, despite the fact those last apples are wrapped in plastic, they have not actually been washed or cleaned at all--they're just sold that way. So yes, the Chinese love overpackaging things just as much as we Americans do, the only difference being that there are like four times as many people in China as there are in America. I know, I know: so much for the environment. Oh well--it was nice while it lasted.
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