Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What will you at the 60th Anniversary Parade

Having heard so much about the 60th Anniversary parade, I really want to watch it on TV. I found out that I can watch it on CCTV 9 or on the Internet Live, or watch it on Kylin TV in the U.S starting at 9:00pm tonight. ChinaSprout will also carry a DVD of the parade. If you cannot watch it on TV Live, please check out our site after October 12th, when it should be available.

What will you see at the parade? Here is a quick overview of highlights of the parade. I have translated some of them:

  • 1949名男青年将高擎600平方米的五星红旗健步走过天安门广场。
    1949 men will hold a national flag that is in the size of 600 square meter (6,000 sq. ft.) (The People's of Republic of China was founded in 1949, that's why they choose 1949 men. I also heard on the radio that all of these men are about the same height of 1.85m, that's very tall for Chinese!)
  • 国徽方阵携国徽彩车亮相 人数创历次庆典之最. 该方阵由2009人组成,长46米,宽41米,是所有仪仗方阵中最大的。
    One of parade cars measures 46x41 meter (151x134 feet) and 2009 men walked around the car to form the float (in 2009).
  • 世界最大广场将展示最大的画卷: 群众游行部分的背景展示的最大亮点是《江山如此多娇》巨幅国画。画布总面积近2万平方米,重3吨。
    The largest painting in the world will be on display in the background of the parade. Its total size is 20,000 sq. m (65,616 sq. ft.), and it weighs 3 tons.
  • 最大的广场音乐会: 1500人联合军乐团,2100人成人合唱团,300人童声合唱团,130人民族打击乐团,将站立表演3个多小时
    The largest open air concert comprised of a 1,500 person orchestra, 2,100 adult chorus, 300 children chorus and a 130 traditional Chinese drum bCheck Spellingand is being performing on the square for 3 hours.
  • 阅兵方队和梯队: 这次阅兵共编了56个方队和梯队,其中徒步方队14个,装备方队30个,空中梯队12个。
    There are 56 military parade floats including 14 floats of soldiers, 30 floats of equipment, and 12 floats of airplanes.
  • 群众游行方队:10万游行群众组成36个方阵。
    36 floats of 100,000 people parade.
  • 背景展示表演: 8万学生将在天安门广场上,表演41幅、49次变化的文字和图案背景,约1万名青少年形成七色光弧形桥。
    80,000 students will perform 41 diagrams and characters that change 49 times, and 10,000 students will form a rainbow bridge.

And read this New York Times aritle about the paprade and an AP report about the preparation of parade.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

China's 60th Anniversary Celebration

October 1st is the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. We have celebrated this holiday every year including the 50th anniversary, which was a big celebration too. However, never in China's history, have we had a celebration on this scale! 200,000 people will be in the parade, including 80,000 students from elementary schools to universities in Beijing!

To prepare for the parade, participants and students have been practicing since mid July, even on those hot summer days. Students didn't have time to enjoy the summer break. Some thing I have never heard before was the multiple rehearsals, which blocked streets of Beijing for multiple weekends. Since August 29th, every Saturday night was a rehearsal night until this Saturday, September 26th. Then, the streets in downtown were all blocked beginning on the late afternoon on Fridays and continuing until Saturday mornings. Even though only downtown streets were blocked, it affected almost all traffic around Beijing. It was not only cars and taxis that were not allowed in those streets, but also public buses and subways were affected. Buses were rerouted and subways gates were closed along Changan Avenue (where the rehearsal and parade are held). One weekend, I was in rush to finish shopping with the suppliers, but couldn't make it because the streets were blocked. I couldn't get a taxi, bus or subway for more than half an hour. Finally, one bus came and I didn't care where it went, I just jumped on it and left the downtown area.

Now that October 1st is only a few days away, traffic restrictions even got more strict. No cars, vans or trucks from other provinces are allowed to drive in Beijing. Delivery trucks that are usually allowed to drive on the Fifth Ring road and Fourth Ring road in the night are not allowed to drive in the city at all. All businesses have been seriously effected. My suppliers told me that they can't receive or deliver any goods now. Even if some goods could get into Beijing, they also get checked and delayed! Every day I hear our suppliers warn me about the issues with the traffic control. Our shipment to the U.S. may have to be delayed or we won't include the products we ordered because they couldn't get into Beijing.

The hotels along Changan Avenue and near Tiananmen Square won't be opened from September 29th to October 2nd (including the famous Beijing Hotel!) Imagine that, how much money will these hotels lose? Hotels located on Changan Avenue, but far away from the square, such as China World Hotel, can only have guests stay on the backside of hotel, not the frontside.

I really hope all these efforts will make the parade a big success. Here is one video for your viewing. I also hope you will have the opportunity to watch it on the TV or on the computer. I wish I were in China so that I could watch it as all Chinese do!

I have not read much about China's 60th Anniversary celebration in the U.S. media, except for this Time article that will come out tomorrow, which I also learned about it on the Chinese website. It also didn't mention much about the parade and effects it has brought to Beijing residents and businesses. But you can learn all things about 60th Anniversary celebration on the Chinese website.


Mooncakes and Beyond

Eating mooncakes on the day of the full moon, August 15th of the Chinese calendar, has been a tradition since the Ming dynasty even though mooncakes were first known in the Tang dynasty. Lots of traditions were not carried on during the Culture Revolution, but just like some of the Chinese New Year traditions, eating mooncakes was always a big family festivity. We didn't have so many varieties at that time and mooncakes were not packed in fancy packaging. We still had our favorite mooncakes, and we had family reunions on the day of the full moon. Now, dozens of flavors include not only sweet or salty, but also sweet and salty mixed and even spicy ones. Guangdong and Beijing mooncakes were the only well-known ones at that time, but now each province has its own flavored mooncakes. Here is a list of new flavors from different provinces (Among these are nine varieties of fruits, tea, seafood, healthy and others. Each has different flavors, for example, fruits has eight flavors and seafood has four flavors).

Nowadays, mooncakes are not only the symbol of family celebration on Moon Festival, but they are also big gift items for businesses and governments. Dozens of varieties of mooncakes are packaged in all kinds of fancy packages (here is an example from one Chinese website), people exchange them by visiting each other or send them via carrier services.

When ChinaSprout first sold mooncakes in 1999, some customers asked us if we sold mooncakes molds because they wanted to make their own mooncakes. I was shocked that people would even think of making their own mooncakes. I had never seen or even heard of any Chinese who made their mooncakes. I actually thought that customers wanted too much of Chinese traditions that even the Chinese don't do anymore. Even though I told our customers that we Chinese don't make our own mooncakes, I didn't tell them why. I hated to say that it was too much trouble or too complicated to make our own mooncakes. But now I know why. Guess what, we never had ovens or microwaves until recent years! How could we make mooncakes if we didn't have ovens!

Nowadays, even a microwave is a must-have item in the Chinese kitchen, and it can make simple mooncakes. Most Chinese families still don't have an oven and therefore, few families make their own mooncakes. Nevertheless, I just read that now making mooncakes is become a fashion in China, and that more and more Chinese have started making their mooncakes. This community even had a gathering and taught families to make their own mooncakes!

This year, the Moon Festival falls on October 3rd. On this day, China and Chinese around world will celebrate by eating mooncakes and enjoying the full moon. We still have the four flavor mooncakes (unfortunately the bakery in New York is not as innovative as the ones in China to produce those dozens of flavors), and you can enjoy these special festivity favorites with ChinaSprout!