Few festivals can rival the after dark displays of Lunar New Year celebrations. In China and Chinatowns across the globe, merrymaking is in full swing as soon as the sun sets. It’s a fabulous event and Shannon Cormick was in Hangzhou when the festivities went off with a bang…
“It’s late, it must almost be midnight. But I have a craving for some spring onion pancakes. I know the little old lady down by the river will still be there. Offering her home cooked deliciousness for only one yuan. It’s worth braving the February chill, so I head outside. I’ve walked only a few paces when suddenly I hear a BANG! Startled, I turn and look around, just in time to see an eruption of sparkles, crackling in the night sky before falling gracefully down, fading gently, leaving wisps of smoke in its wake. The Spring Festival has begun!
I continue along the road heading for the river. Another thump, then a whoosh and BANG! Another explosion of light brings a smile to my face. Then another, and another… before I know it the sky is alight with all the colours of the rainbow. Sparkling specs like fire flies, buzzing, crackling and sizzling. One sparkle fades only to be replaced by another and another.
Nearly overwhelmed by the surrounding sounds of explosions penetrating into my chest, I finally reach the bridge over the river. It is lined by families, little children excitedly holding their mama’s trouser legs. Babies snuggling into their grandmas’ necks. Everyone is watching as the fathers and uncles light the end of the fuse; they take a few steps back and draw a long breath through their cigarettes. A couple of seconds pass and THUMP…WOOOSH! Off it soars! They look up excitedly, trying to keep track of which one is theirs… what colour will it be? How big will it explode? BANG… crackle… fizz.
The men give each other satisfied smiles, cigarettes still glued to their lips. The children laugh excitedly. “More! More!” I look out over the horizon, unable to find a single patch of sky free from the glittering light. I’m sure there is no louder or brighter way to ring in the Year of the Rabbit!”
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* photo by Natalie Clarke – Intrepid Photography Competition