It is the day of preparation for the Lantern Festival tomorrow! Also known as ‘Lantern Decoration Day’. I am pretty excited because I think Chinese Lanterns are beautiful and wish I could decorate our entire house in them (although my housemates may have something to say about that…)
In many parts of China today it is celebrated as the Lantern Festival and the lantern fair is officially open to the public to buy lanterns. The dragon and lion dancers start practicing in the streets, lanterns are made and tang yuan (which are a glutinous rice ball with black sesame paste in the middle) are cooked in preparation. In Shaoxing City, local people will cook a soup on this day, namely ‘ 亮眼汤 ‘ (soup good for one’s eyes). This soup aims to remind people of the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Today I planned to meet my Chinese friend Sherry for lunch but when I realised my shift at work started at 8:30am and not 3pm, I had to rearrange. Luckily Shui (a nickname for my friend David who isn’t my housemate) came to the gym and generously invited me for dinner instead! Yay! So, I get to ask Sherry after all, and decided that I wanted to ask Shui too! I find it quite poetic that I started with two people in one post and now I end with two people in one post 😀
Sherry is a Banking & Finance Masters student from China and Shui is a Business and Economy in Contemporary China UK Masters student and they are both absolutely lovely people. The dinner they cooked was awesome & top notch and I am so happily full in bed that I could sleep for an entire day. Anyway.. back on task!
Sherry was the first to receive a ‘hóngbāo’ and her advice to me was:
Always try new things
It is because if you don’t then you stay in the same place for a long period of time while everyone else improves and have diverse experiences, and this fits the common saying: “try something new everyday”. It is very true that we sometimes get stuck in routines and think that life can become mundane however, as Sherry said, we can find new things such as a new hobby or trying new food to keep growing and in my words, loving life. Even when life isn’t repetitive and quite busy, it is still important to add new things so as to expand our knowledge and maximise the great experiences that we could have. You never know, you could try baba ganoush (a hummus made out of eggplant) and suddenly love it and feel your life has been enriched – (true story for me thanks to my Montreal friend Michael <3)!
Shui came up with the advice that has, in my opinion, has summed up everything in a nutshell:
Love the good, bad & the ugly
Treasure both your good and bad memories because everything makes up who you are. If you want to forget all the bad stuff then that would mean that you’re completely different person. Don’t regret the bad parts or experiences because it is an essential part of ‘you’. We are a complex bundle of the range of emotions from ecstatic happiness to depressed misery, we all have our own stories of struggle and of success. I truly believe that everyone is a perfect version of themselves, and we are all fantastic human beings. On some of the Chinese lanterns there are riddles written that are there to entertain the spectators during the festival, 猜灯谜 (cāidēngmí) and I feel these lanterns are the same as us. We are each like a lantern that have riddles written on them that are created from the mixes of our experiences, waiting to be solved and understood; there are those spectators who understand and love the good, bad & the ugly riddles that may be on our lanterns, and they become our friends and confidantes. There are those who think they’ve got it right however they are just a person who come across in our life but who are not meant to stay. There could be those that get angry and can’t solve the riddle, and they represent those who bring out the negativity in us, what’s our riddle worth if they can’t solve it? I could continue with this metaphor… But I think you’ve got the picture? We are all as beautiful as these lanterns for all the ups and downs, highs and lows etc.
Shui hit the nail on the head that we are human beings who are more capable than we think. Don’t let life happen to you, take life and make it as fantastic as you want it to be, with all the good, bad and the ugly.
And as I post this with six minutes to spare… I bid you all goodnight.
Lots of love,