8 Stages of Chinese New Year in Beijing

1. Dang, I have so much to finish

Once Chinese New Year starts, nothing gets accomplished. Work hits a wall and there is only so much you can accomplish within the Mainland. The weeks heading up to Chinese New Year always wipe you out with the heavy workload.

2. The Mass Exodus begins

Where there is smoke, there is fire. Where there is the greatest human migration in history, there is pollution. People are going back to their hometowns 老家 because no one is actually from Beijing.

3. Blue Skies, Silence, and A lot less People

Millions of people have left the city and all of the factories have shut down. Beijing is quiet and you don’t see as many people on the street. It has a very "calm before the storm" feeling. You hear some fireworks but not a disturbing amount. Beijing actually looks like the pictures in a sunny propaganda poster.

4. New Years Eve Fireworks Extravaganza

At Midnight on New Year’s Eve, Chinese people set off fireworks in the most over the top way possible. You think Fourth of July is crazy. HA! Chinese New Year trumps all fireworks celebrations. You really enjoy the crazy, reckless, and quite frankly fun display of fireworks across the city until the next phase.

5. The "I wish Fireworks had never been invented" phase.

After an exciting Chinese New Year’s Eve, you are fully satisfied with your exposure to fireworks.After a night of blazing up all the fireworks,the fun doesn’t stop there. Beijing sounds and looks like a war zone. Fireworks remains are everywhere and the pollution is terrible because of the excessive amount of fireworks being set off every ten seconds. Firecrackers, which are loud, noisy, and really not even that cool, do not get old, reminding everyone why firecrackers are outlawed in many U.S. states.

6. Where am I getting my next meal from?

During Spring Festival, most Chinese restaurants are closed. It is quite the scavenger hunt to find open restaurants. Most foreigners in Beijing eat outside their house because it is more convenient and cheap.

7. Underwhelmed/ Overwhelmed by Temple Fairs

A temple fair is a celebration at many parks across China with different cultural events, shops, food, and activities. Not all temple fairs are created equally. Some smaller temple fairs do not have as many activities as the bigger one. I am talking to you Dongyue temple fair. The bigger temple fairs are packed with people and activities.

8. Back to Work

After a staycation in Beijing, it is time to go back to work. Hopefully for some of you, the Spring Festival proved to be a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of Beijing.

Kristen Carusos is from Atlanta, Georgia in the United States. She graduated from Kennesaw State University with a major in International Affairs and a minor in French. She studied abroad in China for the first time in Shanghai in 2010 and again in 2011 at Beijing Language and Culture University. She graduated and moved to Beijing in 2012 and has been studying Chinese since then. She works in the Marketing Department at the Sinology Institute.