Me and Chairman Mao
First things first, sorry for the lack of updates, but I have been having some Internet issues that I have only just managed to work out. And even at that, I "worked it out" by going somewhere with a different connection, so who knows. But hopefully I'll figure it out, because I have lots of pictures of women in bras to share with you. And no, it's not what you think. Well, not exactly what you think. Whatever.

Moving on. As many of you are probably aware, Spring Festival--AKA Chinese New Year--is coming up soon. Yes, starting on January 29, the "Year of the Dog" will officially arrive. What that means--beyond the fact that I'll have to stop making jokes about how it's the "Year of the Cock"--I have no idea, but supposedly dog-people are loyal (as well as inordinately hairy, I'm guessing), so that's something.

At any rate, Chinese New Year obviously comes pretty close on the heels of Christmas--it varies, but generally it's around a month later--which you'd think would lead to a pretty quick decorating turn around, wouldn't you? After all, the day Christmas is over, they'd have to get to work taking down all the Santas and snowflakes and start raising red lanterns and all that good stuff. Or at least, you'd think they would. Turns out, the Chinese (or, more specifically I suppose, whoever is decorating these places) get around what would no doubt be a hard, time-consuming task by just not doing it. Or at least not doing part of it: while they do put up plenty of Spring Festival decorations, they don't seem to bother taking down the Christmas decorations. Or at least not all of them. It varies--some places adapt the Christmas decorations, while some just throw a bunch of red envelopes over the Christmas stuff and call it good.

(Side note: red envelopes, which generally come chock-full of money, are the Spring Festival equivalent of Christmas presents. The only difference is that you stop getting them when you get older, which--I'm sure--is one reason Christmas is catching on here: no statute of limitations on presents. Seriously.)

The New Year's display at this mall (Plaza 66, if you care) is a good example of decoration recycling:

If you think it looks familiar, right down to the shiny, red Christmas decorations hanging from the "trees," you'd be right:

The big Christmas tree got a similar makeover. Before, the tree (the one on the left) was empty inside:

Now, however, in honor of Chinese New Year it has some red lanterns added inside. And while I'm not exactly sure what the hell red lanterns have to do with anything--I'll have to get around to figuring that out, I suppose--they look nice, so who cares?

The strange, decorated steps have also gotten a make over, as you can see. Although I'm a bit confused, because didn't they already say "Happy New Year"? I guess maybe they meant Western New Year or something? Either way, it seems like it would have been easier to just cover up the Merry Xmas with some paint or something ...

However, probably the funniest decoration crossover I've seen is at the big mall by my house, the oft mentioned Grand Gateway. Here's a view from Christmas, complete with Christmas presents and trees (albeit the wrong type, but whatever) decorated with lights:

And here they are now, exactly the same, but with red envelopes hung on the tree as well:

If you get in closer (which I am about to do) you can see that they really didn't change much--they just put the red envelopes on the tree right over the Santas and snowmen:

It makes me wonder if there will ever be a time when the two holidays really combine here, if people will start to believe that Santa, possibly with a Fu Manchu instead of the standard bushy white beard, will travel around China on Christmas Eve in his rickshaw--pulled by dragons, natch--to give red envelopes full of hundred Renminbi bills to all the good little girls and boys. I'm picturing potstickers and green tea instead of milk and cookies--what do you think? Really, from a sociological perspective, it's fascinating. Or at least it would be if I had bothered going to sociology class in college more than once a week. Oh well ...
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