No, the fireworks were not for my arrival, but my-oh-my the Chinese do love them. I breathed a large sigh of relief on touching down in Beijing for two reasons. Firstly, I was not spending be night in a hotel, as seemed likely when our flight was grounded for four hours in Shanghai due to thick pollution (visibility < 50m). Secondly, the flashes we could see underneath us all over the east coast did not shoot us down; a constant flurry of fireworks and crackers below us was akin only to a movie about The Blitz and unlike anything I had ever seen from above!
I was welcomed by Mayu (马玉) with his daughter, Anan (安安), at the airport and they whisked me away to their home about twelve kilometres east of the centre of Beijing (ie: pretty central). I had arrived too late to help pack dumplings, but was promised an opportunity the next day! These bite-sized filled pastry delights supposedly resemble money bags, so are eaten for good luck – specifically, and unashamedly, everyone wants to get very rich so send each other pictures of money to be nice. Sometimes the money is falling from trees, or flowing out of a fountain; sometimes it is being burped out by a frog: each to their own.
I have been receiving a crash course in Chinese. Totally immersed in everything I say, hear or read, there is no escape, which is ideal. Also slightly tiring as my host family have realised when I fall asleep in the car, on the sofa, most of the time. Though I do that quite often anyway. They are certainly extremely hospitable and friendly, so far including me in everything and making me feel welcome.
We went to Mayu's mother's house for dinner, I did get an opportunity to wrap some dumplings and was told I should have a rest. I'm not sure whether mine did not quite resemble money bags enough for them to be lucky, or whether I just looked tired! Having been subjected to other people's fireworks for the last 24 hours, we went outside to fire out own, Chinese style,
Method: hold firework in your hand. Light the fuse. Shake it about in other people's way. If brave, hold two.
The largest ones are placed on the ground, but none of this "sticking it in a field with professionals in charge and everyone else a safe distance away" rubbish. Oh no, no distance is unsafe when setting the sky alight here. Having said that, the Chinese did invent them so they have a lot of experience in these matters!