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Temple of Heaven. Photo credit: Karen Kao

Shanghai Noir

I slept for 12 hours last night. Apparently, all this holiday cheer is getting to me. I'm trying to write amidst all the family gatherings and ho-ho-ho-ing. Does this make me sound like Scrooge?

No worries. Christmas is now over and the new year beckons. Two, in fact: the Gregorian new year in four more days and the lunar new year in less than two months. My husband and I intend to celebrate the former with a favorite foods feast, an idea poached from my BFF. I'm thinking seafood this year: raw oysters, smoked salmon mousse, Thai crab cakes, and seared tuna with vegetable intermezzos.

The lunar new year falls on February 4th this year. In China, there's an extended run-up with an after-party, too. The pre-party is called Little Year (xiăo nián 小年) when the house must be cleaned, the kitchen god appeased and sugar melons (táng guā 糖瓜) eaten. The party proper is New Year's Eve and the start of the Spring Festival the following day. Then it's time to eat jiaozi, light firecrackers and stop cleaning the house!

These celebrations end two weeks later with an extravaganza consisting of more food, more firecrackers, lion dances and lanterns. I got a sneak preview of the latter at a Dutch zoo, of all places, where the pretty girl in the picture greeted us. You can read all about it in this week's blog post: Lantern Festival.

For those of you weary of the holiday season, the end is in sight. For those who are still eager for more partying, I've got you covered. Next week: a festive look back on 2018 and a hopeful look forward into 2019.

Happy Holidays!

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