Today is the fifth of the lunar Year of the Rat. I woke up this morning to the sound of hundreds of small firecrackers going off all around the complex. Just when you think things are calming down the Fifth Day dawns. No one could give me a really good reason for the celebration except “It is the fifth day of New Year.”
Why? What makes the fifth day more special than the third or the fourth? There is the fact that traditionally the fifth day is the day that most stores reopen for business after the New Year celebration but I don’t think anyone would be setting off firecrackers to celebrate that fact. The best my Chinese friends could tell me is that the reason doesn’t translate well but everyone eats jiaozi
(chinese dumplings). Therefore, I have decided to call the fifth day of the New Year Jiaozi Day.
Jiaozi are wonderful. There are whole restaurants devoted to Jiaozi. It is a Chinese comfort food. They are dumplings with a wide variety of fillings that are either steamed or boiled. The dipping sauce is a base of soy sauce. When you go to a jiaozi restaurant you will find soy sauce, vinegar, chili, onion and mustard. The idea is to prepare a sauce blend that will personally satisfy. I use four ingredients but usually leave out the chili sauce though jiaozi is better when the sauce has a bit of a bite.
Ok – enough of an explanation of the fifth day of New Year.
It is freezing cold here with a strong wind but at least the skies are blue…. One more day of vacation then back to work.
9:39 PM – Another thing I have learned in the past several hours about Jiaozi Day is that the firecrackers and fireworks are loud and often. I am guessing that there will not be sleep for a while yet tonight.
I have forgotten to mention that all of this is happening right outside my window in my apartment. I live on the 11th floor which apparently that is how high a lot of these fireworks go as there are always embers floating towards my balcony. The noise right now is deafening. I am in my office as far away as I can get because you can’t hear anything in the living room.
Fireworks can be bought on the street here. As I was coming home from work tonight I saw two ways of selling them. The first one is a large temporary building made of metal and canvas hastily set up on the corner of the street. It is divided into two parts. One that is open to the public showing some of the boxes for sale and the other part is closed where they must house the stock.
The second way of selling the boxes is off the back of a horse drawn wagon. The sellers reach onto the wagon with big poles, hook the box handle and pull the inventory off to show a customer. I wonder which is the safest way to buy fireworks?
This is one of the reasons I love living in China – the activities that are done that are no longer allowed in my part of the world. I love the new things I discover every year that I didn’t notice last year.