Valentine’s Day arrives this Tuesday, February 14. In honor of the day To give this deadline-weary writer a break from a long week, I’m pulling out some of my favorite Valentine-related content from the archives.
Ask the Yangxifu: Gifts for Chinese Valentine’s Day. For those of you who don’t know, China also has its own Valentine’s Day called Qixi, which lands on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar year. I discuss the holiday and possible gift ideas for your boyfriend or husband.
China and Its Oh So Romantic Christmas. Okay, you’re probably thinking, Jocelyn has really lost it because she’s pulling out a Christmas entry in the middle of February. But, Christmas in China feels a lot like Valentine’s Day — read for yourself and decide.
The Double Happiness Archives. Enjoy one of the real-life stories of Western women and Chinese men in love from the archives. (And for more stories, also see my lists of books and movies that feature couples of Chinese men and Western women.)
Happy Valentine’s Day — or as they say in China, qíngrénjié kuàilè (情人节快乐)!
Christmas is oh so romantic. At least, that’s what my Chinese husband thinks of the holiday — and I know he’s not alone.
I’ll never forget one Christmas Eve when I stepped out onto Huaihai Road, Shanghai’s equivalent of Fifth Avenue, and right into a sea of twentysomething and thirtysomething couples, strolling hand-in-hand under strings of soft white led Christmas lights up and down the street. There were so many young people in love all around me, I almost felt like I walked onto a set-in-China romantic holiday movie.
It’s not as if Christmas isn’t romantic in the US, where I grew up. After all, Christmas remains the most popular time for wedding proposals, and often a season when many will surprise their loved ones with “a little sparkle” of jewelry under the tree. Plus, there’s at least one romantic holiday movie every year that squeezes in among all of the Santa Claus and elves at the movies (and often far more made-for-TV romantic movies — yes, Lifetime, I’m thinking of you).
But perhaps all that Christmas romance gets lost behind the Santa Claus and the Christmas story and Christmas Eve at your grandma’s and all of your other holiday and family traditions. I don’t know about you, but in my mind, I still think of family when I think of Christmas, and no amount of romantic movies and “buy your engagement ring” commercials could ever change that.
In my home, I know it’s the holidays when cranberry sauce, hand-rolled Chinese dumplings and five-spice turkey hit the table.
That’s what we had on ours last week, when John and I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner in our home. He and I like to joke that it’s a tradition now, that the season just wouldn’t be right without it, even though it’s only our second year of hosting people for the holiday.
I wrote this piece five years ago, but it still rings true. If you miss the holiday atmosphere in January, after Christmas and New Year’s Eve, then you should be in China.
It was early afternoon, and the little Luwan Food Store in Shanghai was belching out patrons left and right. We felt the squeeze as we waited in line for the sesame seed/walnut powder. I was taken by one man who bought two large containers, and slipped them into a black valise that seemed more fitting for someone in the secret service. The people behind John and I impatiently nudged us forward.
The ladies behind the counter just beyond that — the one for Chinese tonics and herbs, everything from ginseng to swallow saliva — bustled back and forth, handing the remedies over to customers in the smart, glossy red packages. Even the tea department brewed with energy. Several men hunched over a counter displaying an assortment of dried and cured leaves in a spectrum of greens, browns and black.
When John and I returned to Huaihai Road — the “Fifth Avenue” of Shanghai — we plunged into a odd gallery of late-season holiday decorations in the store windows. Tinsel, Christmas trees and images of Santa Claus all contradicted the reality that Christmas was already over. Even department stores broadcasted Christmas carols in the background.
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