Photos/Video: Celebrating Chinese New Year's Eve in a Historic Village in China

Read our interview with Sun Yunfan about her Bishan Project here. And read Leah Thompson's report from the Bishan culture festival here.

Sun Yunfan, Culture Editor for Asia Society's ChinaFile website, and Leah Thompson, Associate Director of Asia Society's Center on U.S.-China Relations, are back in Bishan, a village in China's Anhui province, during Spring Festival, continuing their ongoing multimedia project, Bishan: Reinventing China's Emptying Countryside, funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

We are in Bishan to observe the village during Spring Festival, when many migrant workers return home to celebrate the New Year with their extended families. Ou Ning, the co-founder of Bishan Project, is celebrating his first Lunar New Year in Bishan. His parents, siblings and their children traveled from Beijing and Shenzhen to join the celebration in Bishan.

The atmosphere in the suddenly-populated village is much more lively in comparison with our previous visits. Fashionable young returnees are excited to catch up with their childhood friends. Parents of the left-behind children bring new toys from afar and hold tightly to their children while they walk around the village.

On the morning of New Year's eve, families go up the nearby hillside, which is home to many tombs, to pay their respects to deceased relatives. After lunch, each household decorates their house with banners and posters to bring good fortune and deter evil spirits in the new year. Late in the afternoon people begin to light firecrackers, another traditional method for warding off bad luck. A large meal with extended family can last throughout the five-hour-long CCTV New Year's Gala program. At midnight, the new year is greeted by a deafening round of assorted explosions that turns Bishan's normally pitch-black skyline into a colorful haze.

View videos from Bishan below, and for more of Sun Yunfan's photos from this trip, visit her Instagram page.

About the Author

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Sun Yunfan is Culture Editor of ChinaFile and Senior Program Officer at Asia Society's Center on U.S.-China Relations. She has worked as a designer, independent curator, freelance writer, and artist.