It's February 1st and Christmas is now is well and truly over. It must be true, because I found two naked Christmas trees by the dustbins earlier this afternoon. No one can say they didn't put up a good fight!
Chinese New Year, which this year happened on January 22nd, is also nearing its end. Last year was the year of the Tiger, supposed to be turbulent - don't know how anyone could possibly... But now here comes the Rabbit, a more agreeable and somewhat less psychotic animal than the tiger.
So, that's good news, right? According to Chinese zodiac websites, 2023 will be very gentle; a time for reconciliation, endless meetings probably, everybody gets a medal, bla bla. (We'll see.)
For me, Chinese New Year feels more like a new year is starting than for example January 1st. Called 'Spring Festival' in communist China after they had 'smashed' all the old traditions, it follows the agrarian/lunar calendar, and brings about spring, although it's only January.
In Hong Kong, that means going from burning blue skies and "cold" (14 degrees celcius is a cold weather warning) to grey rain and lots of it. Here in Palma, the temperature dropped from 13 to 3 degrees on Chinese New Year's Eve, just as I had predicted. Time to put on - gaaaaah - tights, one of the worst pieces of clothing ever invented, but it does make the difference between life and death.
Chinese New Year used to be a time when I took my Cantonese students ("victims") on adventure trips in the southern provinces of China. Freezing cold, rainy, and so entertaining. The big cities were empty because everybody had gone home to the villages for a month; the towns and villages exploding with life and colour. We called these trips 'language seminars' and they consisted of talking Cantonese to half sloshed strangers (snake wine features prominently at Chinese New Year) photo safaris, fantastic food and lots and lots of beer.
Will I ever get over missing China? Or rather, my days there? The days will never come back, any more than the days of my youth will come back. And with its social credit system (European leaders are salivating at the idea, but calling it ESG) and with all the old towns being razed to the ground, even China isn't China anymore, anyway.
Now that I'm not the only Norwegian Cantonese teacher in the village anymore, I'm looking for a new identity. What will it be?
Meanwhile, Learn Cantonese the Natural Way - from a Norwegian!
Today's Cantonese: 過年 - Goh Lin - Pass year (Chinese New Year)
Happy year of the Rabbit, innit.