welcome to the year of the snake

Today is Chinese New Year in the lunar calendar, marking the start of the year of the snake according to the Chinese zodiac. It also marks the start of two weeks of celebration! But to be honest, I’ve never done the full celebrations because I can’t remember what each day means and … that’s a lot of effort.

In Chinese culture it’s tradition to put up these red banners around the doorway with phrases of good will or what-not. However, when you’re not in China, it just looks tacky. I was in Flushing (aka “the other Chinatown”) with some friends a few weeks back, so I bought a little token for the new year that I’m hanging on the doorknob to my room. The character embroidered in yellow is 福 (fú), which translates to “good fortune.” It’s commonly seen on Chinese New Year decorations, because everyone’s wishing that the new year brings good fortune. And ya know, I could always use a bit of fortune.

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beginning to look a lot like xmas …

As much as I would like to get all Christmas-y and go to town on decorating this apartment, it just ain’t really worth it since most of us are going home for the holidays. Also, it’s finals time so I need to be focusing on school stuff. But … I did manage to hang my stocking on my door. Yay!

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For scale, the stocking’s only about six inches tall. And those weird shadows are due to the weird configuration of lighting fixtures in my room. There’s a little Christmas tree in our living room, so I guess that counts. Oh well, it ain’t much but it’s in the right spirit.

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is reposted here for my own sake.]

is it xmas yet?

No real post today. A few days until Christmas … yay! Unfortunately, I will be attending class on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve! No holiday here. Below are three photos of Christmas trees from around Shanghai … and they’re doozies.

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1. From the department store next to the Jing’an Temple. Gaudy yet fairly normal. But Santa Dwarves? And what’s with the fleur de lys instead of a star/angel? And there were SIX of these trees right near each other – overkill.

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2. Right by the Jing’an Temple. I don’t understand. It looks like it’s made out of paper … maybe it is. And why did thy turn it into a house? The thing has a door and windows … I just don’t get it.

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3. In front of Plaza 66, a high-end department store on Nanjing Xi Lu. The building was designed by KPF, so it’s all glass and modern. The tree is whitish and furry with some shiny things on it. I guess it’s fitting?

apt xmas

An apartment next to a college campus is not an ideal place for Christmas. Thankfully I will be spending Christmas at home with my family, but I’ll only be able to spend a few days at home. The rest of the time will be at my fabulously over-priced, run-down apartment. Therefore, while procrastinating one fine evening, I decided to decorate. Here, ladies and gentlemen, is how a college student decorates her apartment for Christmas (on a very limited budget).

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1. White Lights

I dug up some white Christmas lights that I bought two years ago for studio. I actually bought them because when you can’t find an extension cord, Christmas lights will work just as well. I had originally strung them around my desk to keep people from walking by my work area where I had models on the floor. Last year I was in the middle of a large studio space, so the Christmas lights were strung from the wall to my desk in the middle of the room, and the guy sitting next to me had Christmas lights strung from the other wall to his desk. All in all it was fabulous. Here in our lowly apartment, however, I just grabbed some drafting tape and taped these much loved white lights around our front doorway. The texture of the wall is kind of weird though.

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2. Silver and Red Bow

I’ve always been a big fan of bows. Snowflakes are pretty. Christmas trees and stockings are too obvious. Bows are universal. And I happen to really like ribbon. So I grabbed some thick silver wired ribbon and created a big bow on our cheap Wal-Mart shelving unit. I thought it looked a bit drab so I grabbed some red satin ribbon and incorporated another bow into the mix. I think it’s rather nice … really classes up that cheap white plastic, eh?

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3. Santa Hat

I’ve had this Santa hat for years … can’t even remember where/when I got it. Anyway, though I like the color green, I’ve never been a big fan of the red-green color combination because I just find it too cliché. It screams “Christmas!” in that overly commercial way. Therefore, our apartment’s just going to stick with red and white/silver, which the Santa hat fits into perfectly. How is the hat standing so erect on our counter? Because it’s hiding our very college-student bottle of tequila next to an empty bottle of wine. Yeah … don’t judge me. Oh, and the wallpaper was there when we moved in.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love giving gifts, wrapping gifts, decorating gifts, hanging out with friends, having that hot mocha latté at Spider House while exchanging gifts … you get the idea. Though decorating was rather light this year, I think in conjunction with the nippy weather and the scarves around my neck, it’s winter enough. Happy holidays.

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is reposted here for my own sake.]