The celebration known as Chinese New Year has drawn to close tonight with one last round of fireworks. There have been a few nights of fireworks, but this year has been very tame compared to every other year.
One big reason was that, for Changping, there was a strong effort to curtail the annual displays by connecting them to the air pollution that now everyone wants to talk about. Only a few years ago, Beijingers insisted to us that what we were seeing was mist, not smog. Now, though, even school children know about PM 2.5.
Around Changping, the subway and our apartment complex had posters like these to remind us of the health hazards. The campaign to control the pyrotechics was stepped up this year, which, in our early years in Changping, have been a free-for-all.
The night before Spring Festival, Chinese New Year’s Eve, we heard the slow building of noise from just after dark until the midnight crescendo. It wasn’t as wild as we have ever seen, but it was still impressive to us. We were surprised that by around 1 am, they had stopped. Back in the day, as they say, it went until the wee hours.
The kids dozed in turns, and Brigid was awake again at midnight to see this.
As much as I obsess about air quality here, I must confess that I have been dubious about the impact of one night of fireworks on the AQI. However, the data seemed to contradict my willful blindspot. I love fireworks, and Chinese New Year is such a treat for me. However, I would gladly give it up for better air.
As has been our custom, we waited until the fifth day to buy our own fireworks. We were shocked to find that the venders’ stalls were all shuttered and locked up by then. It was disappointing that we were not able to buy fireworks this year, to say the least.
This evening, though, we were over that, and just enjoyed the last night of the Spring Festival. It seemed that everyone else in Changping was aware of the limited purchase time this year and stocked up. Some really fantastic, large fireworks greeted the full moon.
This post first appeared on Jennifer Ambrose’s site on March 6, 2015.
Jennifer Ambrose hails from Western Pennsylvania and misses it terribly. She still maintains an intense devotion to the Pittsburgh Steelers. She has lived in China since 2006 and is currently an at-home mother. With her husband Randy and children Myles and Brigid, she resides outside the Sixth Ring Road in Changping, northwest of Beijing.
Photos: Jennifer Ambrose