I am writing this blog from my room, watching the faint drops of rain drizzle down my window. Today is the last day of the Golden Week holiday, which has turned out not to be as crazy busy for Changqing Reserve as I, and others here had anticipated. While we are not certain of the reason for this, think it is probably a combination of factors including this year’s weather being a little cooler than previous ones, and many choosing to stay home for the 60th Anniversary National Day Parade.
I spent much of the 60th Anniversary sitting around a television with Changqing colleagues watching the parade* together, while drinking green tea and snacking on peanuts, sunflower seeds and phoenix claws. Well, technically speaking I didn’t partake in the delicacy of phoenix claws (cold chickens feet!), being a vegetarian I stuck to the other snacks. Then at night there was a big bonfire held for the community and visitors – with lots of traditional dances and songs performed. During the parade telecast my colleagues and friend’s comments made me realise how patriotic Chinese people are compared to my experience of Australians. I spent a couple of days pondering this thought, and wondered if it were a difference in schooling, media coverage, critical thought, or perhaps purely just the way in which it is expressed. After all, while at home it’s expected that politicians, and patriotic displays will be made fun of, if anybody from another country is to join in and make fun of ‘us’ – most would argue to the death to verbally defend their country.
While National Day was really interesting to be part of as a foreign observer – the Mid-Autumn festival celebrations were the highlight of my week! The festival occurs on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar year, when the moon is supposed to be at its fullest and roundest… and it did not disappoint. We had an open-air concert outside our office, eating mooncakes, fresh fruit and nuts. I sang a well known, albeit quite silly, Australian folk song with a flag draped over my arm. Others sung traditional Chinese Han or minority cultural songs. After the singing was over, the dancing began! I received much-needed lessons in Chinese waltzing from colleagues, but was able to hold my own a bit better with the disco ball came out. It was one of those nights where you feel so happy you will burst, and can’t stop smiling. I thought how, like many countries around the world, occasions such as these in China include everyone participating in song and dance, no matter what their level of skill! It didn’t seem to matter how good you were, as that wasn’t the point – as long as you joined in you were encouraged! I think there is a lot to be said for that, and hopefully something I can take home with me.
* An amazing video of the National Day parade from photojournalist Dan Chung. It is only three-and-a-half minutes in length and a mix of time-lapse and slow motion.