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Festivals & Culture
Click cartoon on right to send a Free Chinese New Year E-Card! (123Greetings.com)

Amoy is most magical and merry on Chinese Holidays-and China has certainly accumulated her share of them over the past 5,019 years (I was told China was 5,000 years old, but that was 19 years ago).

Your hospitable Chinese hosts are bound to invite you to celebrate these festivities with them. Go for it! But also note that some customs and taboos differ from ours.

For example, in China red is the color for luck, so a piece of red paper is often placed on top of a gift, wedding cars are decorated with red ribbons, and children are given New Year gifts of cash stuffed red envelopes (Hongbao). And don't be surprised when brides wear bright red (which we associate with prostitution) instead of white. Chinese wear white at funerals because white, black and blue symbolize grief.

Some local taboos:

1. Never point at people with the middle finger.
2. Don't sweep in front of guests; they'll think you're shooing them out.
3. Breaking a bowl or utensil at wedding feasts is augurs great misfortune.
4. Never serve a guest six dishes of cooked food. During the Qing Dynasty, only death row prisoners were fed six dishes right before execution.
5. Don't lay chopsticks across a bowl, lest fishermen's boats run aground.
6. Never turn a fish over to get the meat on the bottom side of the skeleton, or a fishing boat will sink. (Dr. Jan says, "Lift the skeleton out.").
7. Don't jam chopsticks upright in rice: they resemble sacrificial incense sticks.
8. Never pat a Chinese adult on the head.
9. Always give and receive gifts with two hands! And when receiving business cards, don't just stuff them in your pocket. Read them for at least 15 or 20 seconds, compliment the design of the card, then set in on a table (or place it carefully in your wallet).
10. A person who hasn't 'settled down' (married) can receive HongBao's (cash-stuffed red envelopes) but can't give them.
11. Mentioning monkeys near babies may cause the babies to get sick.

And speaking of monkeys...

Monkey Business
According to a Xiamen University professor, Chinese legend has it that we Laowai are the fruit of an unseemly union between an ancient Chinese maid and a monkey! When I protested, he pointed to my arm, smiled, and said, "You foreigners are hairier than us Chinese!"
Tibetans, by the way, are proud of such monkey business. They boast that all Tibetans are descended from a union between the monkey God Chenrezi and the mountain goddess who seduced him.

Darwin would be gratified.

Chinese New Year (Chun Jie), aka Spring Festival, is to Chinese what Christmas is to Westerners. It falls on the first day of the first month of the Luny Calendar, and so changes each year, but usually is in January or February.
As the New Year approaches, don't even think of using public transportation. We were once stuck in Beijing for two weeks because every bus, plane, truck and boat was packed with gift-laden passengers headed home for the holidays.
In the countryside, shiny new bicycles groan under the weight of parents and children returning to their ancestral home with bundles of gifts, and baskets of live ducks, geese, chickens and piglets. Even in the remotest hinterlands, mountain paths teem with families making the long but joyful trek home, possessions slung over parents' shoulders, children skipping and laughing in anticipation of grandma's cooking and grandpa's tall tales of the Japanese invasion, and of the revolution.

A New Year's celebration has always been a very intimate affair, family only. But either times are changing or we now have a very big family. When the MBA Center's Dean learned, to his horror, that we had not prepared our own Chinese New Year feast, he invited us to share his family's 20 course banquet. And every year since, some Chinese family has shared their intimate meal with this family of homeless Americans.

All around Xiamen you will see traditional sayings in gold letters on red paper (some with Mickey and Minnie Mouse on them) pasted up on both sides of doors. They are to insure good luck in the New Year, and a typical couplet might read:
"May there be lots of things to sell, and lots of money."
"May the marketplace be crowded, with noisy business people."

When only one character is posted, it is usually for Spring (Chun), Long Life (Changshou), or Fortune (Fu). They are often placed upside down so demons can't read them and give them the opposite!

You'll also see round mirrors above some doors, because demons are so ugly that when they see themselves they are frightened away. And it might work-at least on Foreign Devils. I've scared myself a few times before my morning shave.

Red paper is never used if an elderly person has died in the household within the last three years. Instead, they use green paper if the deceased was a man, and yellow if they were a woman, and the sayings are calculated to placate the recently extinquished personage:
"Remember to be reverent for three years."
"Cherish the memory of your parents like a cloud rising to the sky."
"Wholeheartedly remember the past."
"Where'd you hide the safe's key, dear departed Dad?"

The night before New Year's Eve, families prepare sweets like cooked dates, Chinese melons, cakes and candied peanuts. In the countryside and those cities where it is not banned, people set off firecrackers to ward off demons and the dreaded man-devouring Nian that stalks the land every New Year's Day.

Lantern Festival (Yuan Xiao Jie) falls on the 15th day of the Luny Calendar. Be sure to take in the shows at Zhongshan Park, and buy your kids (or yourself!) one of the little battery-operated brightly colored plastic lanterns, and parade down Zhongshan Rd. with everyone else.
According to tradition, young girls prowl about on this night, hanging around the lanterns, or pulling up people's onions and vegetables, all in the hopes of getting married. (I've never understood what pulling up veggies has to do with matrimony, unless she wants to land a husband with a higher celery?).

Another practice is for the eligible lass to cast divining blocks, and then to walk in the direction they tell her until she meets someone. She memorizes the first word that person speaks, and then a fortune tellers divines whether the word is lucky or not, and thus whether she will marry or not that year.

National Day
(Guo Qing Jie). It is ironic that our planet's oldest nation is also one of the youngest. We celebrate New China's birthday on October 1st, and usually get 3 or 4 days off for National Day festivities. Most likely you'll be invited out by colleagues or friends to celebrate with a meal, and an evening of entertainment that may include fireworks, special performances of ballet or orchestras, or Minnan Opera. Or you can hibernate at home and watch the gala specials on CCTV, Shanghai TV, or our own XMTV.Click Here to send a free 123greetings.com Dragon Boat E-Card to a friend!

SEND a Free Dragon Boat E-card !Click the Dragon Boat --->
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The Dragon Boat Festival! on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, is called the Double 5th Day Festival in Taiwan, and the 5th Day Festival in Xiamen. Some people still insert Chinese mugwort in the doorway, poor wine on the floor, and pin charms on the children to keep evil spirits away. It's also a great day to air out clothes, clean the house, eat zongzis (pyramid-shaped dumplings of glutinous rice and meat in bamboo leaves), and to watch the annual International Dragon-Boat Race held in Jimei's Dragon-boat Pool. (Some dragon boats in the countryside are so long they require 80 rowers!)

The Dragon Boat Festival is one of 3 traditional days for settling accounts with both the living and the dead. Various deities are responsible for success in health, wealth and warfare, and with lakes and rivers numerous in the south of China, many Southern deities live underwater. This explains why some people throw rice and zongzis into the water-to feed the hungry deities, demons, ghosts, and dragons (the chief water creature being the dragon). Yet another tradition says the zongzis are thrown to an ancient poet who drowned himself.
Zongzis supposedly originated with Qu Yuan,??,a Minister in the State of Chu back during the 4th century B.C. He gave detailed instructions on how to wrap rice in silk, with threads of five colors. They eventually came to be wrapped in leaves, in triangular shape, and bound with leaf fibers or string.
Susan Marie loves Zongzis, and Double Fifth is the time to find them-both the sweet ones and the meaty ones. Give them a try.

Qingming Festival or Grave-Sweeping Day, falls on the 105th day after the Winter solstice, or April 5th (which, lest you've forgotten, is also my birthday). On this festive occasion, folks eat 'spring cakes,' go for strolls in the countryside, and show respect to ancestors by sweeping their graves. While some people still burn 'hell money' to ease the dearly departeds' debts down below, nowadays more people are just leaving flowers, at both ancestors' graves and the cemetery of revolutionary martyrs.

The willow has long been used to celebrate Easter because it is one of the first flowers to bloom in spring. Likewise, Chinese use it for Qingming Jie. In fact, tradition has it that women must wear a sprig or risk being reborn as dogs! This tradition began back during the Tang Dynasty when Emperor Gao Cong (650 to 683 A.D.) plucked sprigs of willow and ordered his retinue to wear them in their caps to protect them from scorpion stings.

Oddly enough, another name for Qingming Jie is Zhishujie,or "Tree Planting Festival," and it falls at the same time as the West's Arbor Day (which is also set aside for planting trees).

On grave sweeping day, a meal and 3 glasses of wine are offered to ancestors, candles are lighted, and 3 sticks of incense smolder while the family prostrates itself before the dead. And as a precaution against evil spirits stealing the sacrifices, they often make a separate sacrifice of Hell Money (called ??? Wai Sui Zhi, or Outside Following Paper), which the demons scramble after.

If someone can't make it to the ancestral tomb, they worship by correspondence. They put the Hell Money in large square bags, address it to the deceased recipient, prepare a smaller package for the evil demons, place them on the bed, light candles, kneel and worship. The parcels are then taken outside, wine is poured on them, and they are set afire. Hence the origin of "dead letter mail?"

Cold Food Festival on April 4th is yet another cool festival. Fire and smoke are forbidden because some official was burned to death on that day a few thousand years ago. In remembrance of this man, Chinese used to forego fire for an entire month, but they cut it back to 3 days, and now it's only one day, if even that, and people eat only cold spring rolls, cold noodles, and cold take-out cheeseburgers and KFC.
So why not just use a microwave?


Mid-Autumn Festival
(Zhongqiujie), also known as Moon Festival, falls on the 15th day of the 8th Luny month.
Contrary to popular opinion, Neil Armstrong was not the first person on the moon. It was Chang-O, a beautiful lady who fled to the moon back during the Xia Dynasty (2205-1766 BC). During Moon Festival, worshippers of this Moon Goddess offer her moon-cakes, tea and fruit, and Hell money.

Just before the Moon Festival, people present mooncakes to family, friends, co-workers and bosses. In Taiwan's private schools, teachers traditionally give mooncakes to students, and students reciprocate with a nice cash-stuffed Hongbao (Red Envelope).

I wouldn't mind starting that tradition in Xiamen University.
One tradition has it that on Moon Festival Eve, the later a girl goes to sleep, the longer her mother will live-so many girls stay up the entire night.

And once upon a time, on mid autumn festival, unmarried but wealthy girls past their prime would throw an embroidered ball out her window to a crowd of unmarried men below. She could throw the ball to any man she chose, and the one who caught it had to marry her, and they lived happily ever after, or at least had a ball.

In the evening, families are reunited to eat mooncakes, drink wine, and guess riddles, and in Southern Fujian and Taiwan, we play Koxinga's "mooncake gambling game."

Moon-Cake Gambling, like Minnan Opera, is found only in Southern Fujian and parts of Taiwan. The game was invented by pirate-cum-patriot Koxinga to keep his homesick troops occupied.

Every mid-autumn festival, quiet evenings are punctuated by the ringing of dice in large porcelain bowls as families and work unit members gather around tables to compete for mooncakes. They take turns tossing 6 mahjong dice into the bowl, taking care that no dice bounces out (for then they lose a turn).

Prizes range from tiny cookies to medium and large mooncakes, with one grand prize - the Zhuangyuan cake. The different sizes represent different official positions won in taking the imperial examinations of yesteryear. The Grand Prize, called Zhuangyuan, represents #1 scholar, Duitang is #2 scholar, Sanhong is #3 scholar, deng deng.

Few people actually enjoy the green bean and egg and fruit stuffed pastries, but who's going to mess with tradition? Mooncakes probably fill much the same niche as fruitcake back home. Fortunately, many families (and work units) are now replacing mooncakes with fruits, food, or practical things like towels, toothpaste, and laundry detergent. Our family usually wins enough toothpaste from Foreign Affair's annual game to last the year. If we ever miss out on Moon Festival, our Dentist will be the first to know about it.

For more precise directions on Mooncake Gambling, just stick around. Your hospitable hosts will either teach you the ropes or hang you with them. But worry not. 'Tis a piece of cake! So much so that our boys have made a board game out of it, battling year round over hand-drawn cardboard cakes.

Possible Mooncake Game Combinations:
One red is Yixiu, and lands the smallest cookie.
Two fours, Ligu, gets you a larger cookie.
Higher combinations land larger mooncakes, until eventually you get the grandprize, or Zhuangyuan - which is four fours or above.
But beware! If you throw Zhuangyuan, don't eat the cake yet. If someone throws a higher one later, they can take it away from you.
Which just goes to show you can't always have your cake and eat it too.

Winter Festival (Dongzhi) falls on the shortest day of the year, the Winter solstice, and according to custom is the best day for buying, selling, and signing contracts. On this day, eating a plate of Winter Festival dumplings will supposedly add a year to your life.

Sending off the Gods Day
is the 24th day of the 12th Luny month. On this day, the gods down here on earth report to the heavenly emperor on who's been naughty and who's been nice. To get on their good side, people offer them sacrifices, and burn spirit money, and give out New Year cakes to friends and family. This is also the only day they dare to clean house.

According to ancient custom, every single object in a house has a god living in it, so people who still follow old customs (especially in Taiwan) are very careful about how they clean house, lest they jostle and anger the deities resident in the couch or teapot or porta-potty. But on Sending off the Gods Day, the gods have all left to make their reports to the Emperor upstairs.

This is also a good day to marry. Fortune tellers aren't needed to determine if it's a propitious day because the trouble-making deities have all skipped town.


On Weddings & Funerals....Weddings have been a festive occasion in China ever since they were instituted about 3,019 years ago by Fuxi, whose sister complained to him about the promiscuous way that people were living together. Fuxi acted on her advice, drew up marriage regulations, instituted match-making, and the redoubtable Hans have been henpecked ever since. Early on it was ruled that people with the same surname could not marry, but given that 1.3 billion Chinese share only 400 surnames, it's fortunate that this rule was abolished, lest some bride be force to marry the wang husband.

Traditionally, Chinese had 8 considerations in selecting a mate: 1) different surname, 2) not related, 3) rich), 4) social position, 5) behavior, 6) health, 7) appearance, 8) lucky or unlucky.
Speaking for myself, I possess # 8, good luck: I'm lucky my wife didn't belabor the other seven.

Wedding dates are carefully chosen according to the Chinese horoscope, and presided over by seniors in both families. Traditionally, the day before the marriage, the bride's family sends the dowry to the groom's family and decorates the bridal chamber. Early on the wedding day, the bridegroom fetches the bride in a wedding car, and holds a banquet for guests that evening. After the feast, guests can go to the bridal chamber to joke with and tease the bride and groom.

On the third day, the bride and groom return to the bride's family, where a feast is held to celebrate their survival of the first 3 days.
But nowadays, many lovebirds forego the feasting and teasing and head straight for the honeymoon.

Wedding gifts should always be given well before the wedding day, never on or after it. But if your friend hands you a sack of sweets and says they've just been married, no gift is expected.

Wedding gifts used to be practical, like Double Happiness Brand thermoses, blankets, electric rice cookers, electric fans, deng deng. But to avoid getting five rice cookers and four fans and thirteen thermoses, many now prefer the increasingly ubiquitous cash-stuffed Hongbao.

Though "Hell Money" may be best for dearly departed newlyweds…

Till Death Do Us Marry Even with divorce rates sailing past 50%, Americans still staunchly vow, "Till death do us part." But not even death unties the knot for Chinese. In fact, some don't even marry until after they're dead.

In Chinese communities worldwide (though rarer in the mainland), spiritualists sometimes inform bereaved families that their dead child cannot rest until married to some other dearly departed soul. Both families then spend a small fortune to wed the dead, who attend by proxy (often in the form of engraved wooden 'spirit boards,' to which sacrifices are offered).

I suspect some girls end up with some real deadbeat husbands.
And speaking of dead folks… China not only has the largest population of living, but the most dying as well, so you may be invited to a funeral. Funerals, even more than weddings, have brought home to me just how alike, in the end at least, are we Laowai and Laonei.

Filming a Buddhist Funeral
The village square facing the ancient Buddhist temple was crowded with old and young alike, and a few dogs and chickens as well. I walked up and down with my video camera, filming the funeral of my student's father. Per his request, I filmed everything. I panned the gifts of blankets draped over bamboo poles, and the rickety table covered with food offerings to the deceased, whose photo was propped up on the table so he could oversee the proceedings.

As I filmed, everyone who saw me shouted "Laowai!" This shouting and pointing gets to some Laowai, but look at the other side of the Yuan. Laowai zip about snapping shots of old men in PJs brushing their teeth on the roadside, or of fishermen mending nets, or babies in split pants, as if they all were Smithsonian cultural exhibits. I'm not sure which is worse, "Laowai!" or "Flash!"

Yankee Doodle Dirge Mourners and curious onlookers watched the deceased's family bustle about preparing food for the growing crowd. Shaven headed, saffron robed Buddhist priests bustled about preparing for the service. And three bands played simultaneously. A white uniformed brass ensemble played Western music, ranging from Sousa's marches to Camptown Races. An ancient trio played classic Chinese instruments like the suona (a brass horn shrill enough to wake the dead or exorcise them), and the two-stringed erhu (Chinese violin), which is often high pitched and shrill but in the hands of a master is as sweet as any Western violin. A third ensemble played Spanish flamenco on guitars. The icing on the corpse's cake was a Chinese ghetto blaster blaring a funeral dirge that cast a mournful pall that no one could bear (except, perhaps, the pallbearers).

Just about the time I felt like joining the mourners myself, the brass band broke into a rousing rendition of "Yankee Doodle Dandy."

Chinese funeral music appears to emphasize volume, not quality. Perhaps it's like the 100 million dollar hell notes, and false bottomed baskets-the dead don't know any better. Besides, funerals (like weddings) can bankrupt you, so why waste money on good music for the deceased when their ear for music is dead anyway?

Farewell Forever After an hour of solemnities, the relatives led a procession out of the village common and down the dusty path into the countryside, marching to the three bands' merrily mournful music. Behind the bands came the pallbearers, followed by the sons, more family, professional mourners, a solo guitarist playing Spanish music, hundreds of friends and curious onlookers, children, dogs, and one lone water buffalo, who must have known what he was about because everyone ignored him.

And I ran back and forth filming the entire procession.

The sons' devastating wails reached new heights when we passed a beautiful 3-story partially completed home on the outskirts of town. It was to have been the father's retirement home.
After marching far out into the countryside, the mourners took a left fork in the road back to town and the male family members continued on with the coffin towards a small copse in the middle of a dusty field. We passed into the shadows of gnarled, ancient oaks, and approached a dark, musty cave piled high with moldy urns and bones, a few leg bones here, a thigh bone there, a pile of skulls on a shelf.

The place had obviously seen its share of skullduggery.

The sons lifted the blanket and I nearly dropped my camera in shock. I had thought the father lay in state in a coffin, but under the red blanket was naught but a small porcelain urn of ashes.

(Given how much he smoked, I think the extinguished gentlemen would have preferred a lacquer ashtray to an urn).

The sons placed the 8 x 10 and the urn on a shelf dug into the damp cave wall, I shot one last scene, and we returned to the village courtyard, which was already cleared out and deserted, as if the funeral had never taken place.

Life goes on.

Weddings and funerals. Life and death. We Laowai and Laonei really do have a lot in common. As someone said, "Life is tough, and then you die." But Chinese are certainly no strangers to suffering, and I increasingly appreciate their love of life, and even their ability to laugh at death, as in these ancient Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) tales:


Live to Tell About It-a Ming Dynasty Tale On his sickbed, retired prime minister Ye Heng asked a visitor, "I am dying. Is death a desirable state?"
"Yes, of course it is!"
"But how do you know that?" Ye Heng asked him.
"If it were so bad," the visitor said, "they would have all come back by now, but since none have returned, they must be happy over there!"

Red Sorghum-a Ming Dynasty Tale A man complained to his friend, "Your mother has just died and instead of mourning you are eating red steamed sorghum!"

The friend replied, "Then I suppose those who eat white rice every day are in mourning?"


Cultural Supplement

These Are the Magi-- Gift-giving in China


He who gives when he is asked has waited too long.
Chinese Proverb

The Art of Chinese Gift-giving It is written that the wise men who brought gifts to the Christ child came from the East. I suspect they meant China, because 1) you can't get any further East than China, and 2) Chinese have raised giving to an art form.

Our first Christmas in China, our elderly dean gave our two sons a toy electric car that set him back at least a week's wages. Two months later, on Chinese New Year, a teacher gave each of our sons a Hongbao (Red Envelope) stuffed with 100 rmb-a small fortune by that teacher's standards. Any doubts on the importance of gifts in China vanished when I read Lesson 38 in, "Modern Chinese Beginner's Course." The correct response to an impromptu invitation to a Chinese friend's home was, "But we haven't brought any gift."

Gift giving rituals vary around China. Tibetans give a white silk scarf, while Hainan Islanders place a lei of flowers over guests' shoulders. In Xiamen, the most common gifts are bags of fruit or packages of our local Oolong tea.

Xiamen folk avoid giving odd numbers of gifts. It must be two bottles of Chenggang medicinal wine, not one or three bottles, or 4 boxes of Tiekuanyin tea, never three or five. The gifts must be proffered respectfully with two hands, and accepted with two hands.

Americans have no qualms in giving an inexpensive gift or card to convey a sentiment because it's the thought that counts. But not in China, where face is everything, and a small or trifling gift may be worse than no gift at all. Conversely and perversely, the larger the gift, the more face for both parties. Over the years, our face has been lifted more times than Elizabeth Taylor's.

Guests have materialized on our threadbare astroturf welcome mat with 50 bananas, or 30 pounds of roasted Longyan peanuts, or 15 pounds of freshly caught fish, or 4 dozen freshly fried home-made spring rolls. We've protested, futilely, that 50 pounds of bananas will rot before we can finish them off. In the end, we either go on banana binges or make a quick pilgrimage to a Chinese colleague's home with a second-hand gift of bananas, tea, dried mushrooms or fresh fish. They probably pass them off too, but somewhere down the line some soul has to get 50 pounds of bananas down the hatch.

Where's the Beef? We had some knotty experiences until we learned the ropes of Chinese gift giving. Shortly after we moved into Chinese professor's housing, Susan baked chocolate cake, which at that time few Xiamen folk had tried. She gave our neighbor a couple of slices to sample, and the astonished granny thanked her profusely and shut her door slowly, politely. Next morning, bright and early, she rapped on our door, and thrust a plate full of beef in Sue's face. She said, "For you," and beat a hasty retreat, ignoring Susan's protests.

"This is terrible, Bill," Sue said. "She should not have done that."

"This is great, Sue." I retorted. "Two pounds of beef costs a lot more than two slices of cake. Think how much we'll save on meat if we give cake to all our neighbors."

Now I know why Marie Antoinette gave everyone cake.

It is Cheaper to Give Than to Receive Nowadays, we are more careful (though not paranoid!) with gift-giving, because it can be costly for all concerned. Those whom we give gifts feel compelled to reciprocate, whether they can afford it or not. As for receiving gifts… they sometimes have more strings than ribbons. But all things considered, I still think Chinese are the Magi-particularly where family and homeland are concerned.

Giving to the Motherland When overseas Chinese labored in abject poverty in the mines and fields of Africa and Colonial Asia, or to build American railroads, they invariably sent a large portion of their meager earnings home to family. It was these pittances, multiplied a million fold, that kept China afloat when we were bleeding her dry through the opium trade.

Some laborers became industrial magnates, like Tan Kak Kee, and donated millions to China. Even today, regardless of political persuasions, overseas Chinese continue to remit millions annually not only to their mainland relatives but to local governments to build schools, colleges, orphanages, and roads.

Chinese, rich and poor alike, are a generous people. A lowly mason who lives in a shack nearby gave me 5 pounds of freshly netted fish because he heard my in-laws were visiting from America. A disabled, retired campus laborer shows up occasionally with fresh greens from his garden, or new flowers for our yard. When word got around that I wanted a stone mill to grind wheat, several peasants headed to the rural stone quarries, and we were blessed with not one mill but three (never again will I take wheat for granite).

The mason, the disabled laborer, the peasants, sought nothing in return. They gave because we were friends-like the poor bicycle repairman who repeatedly insists, "It's a small thing. Pay me when you have a real problem to fix." The man's entire world is but a tiny, dusty shop only 8 feet wide and 4 feet deep. Greased bike chains and sprockets, rims and tires and tubes, bike seats and pedals hang from nails on the walls. His furniture consists of two bamboo stools, one for himself and one for customers, and a bamboo footstool that doubles as a table for his cheap tea set, which he sets up every time I stop by.

He has spent more serving me tea than he will ever make from fixing my battered bicycle.

Chinese have always given sacrificially to family and their immediate community, but charity beyond that was rare, for it was seen as depriving family and local community of scarce resources. But times are better now, and Beijing is seeking to widen the scope of giving.

Half a dozen programs encourage wealthier urbanites to help their less fortunate and far more numerous comrades in the countryside. Every year, "Project Hope" (????) allows millions of urban Chinese to help fund poor rural children's education. And "Helping Hand" pairs up city kids and country kids, who write to each other and exchange gifts.

Get involved!
Many foreign firms and individuals have participated in campaigns like Project Hope. For details on how to get involved, contact your Chinese colleagues or the municipal government. You can even arrange with local governments to help sponsor schools or poorer students. Opportunities are limited only by your imagination and your purse.


Gold Rats and Oxen - A Ming Dynasty Tale (1368-1644)
On his birthday, an official's subordinates chipped in to give him a life-sized solid gold rat, since he was born in the year of the rat (each year of a twelve year cycle has a different animal). The official thanked them, then asked, "Did you know that my wife's birthday is coming up? She was born in the year of the ox."
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TRAVEL LINKS Hakka Earthen architecture Favorite Fujian Sites Photographs of Fuhken places like Zhangzhou, Longyan, Ningde, Sanming, Wuyi MountainFujian Foto Album AmoyMagic-- Travel , Resident and Business Guide to Xiamen and FujianXiamen Gulangyu Kulangyu Kolongsoo Kolongsu KulongsuGulangyu Guide to Fukien Fuhken Fujian Guides Mystic Quanzhou -- the fabled port of Zayton ( or Zaytun Zaitun Zaiton ) from which Marco Polo sailed,  Sinbad the Arab visited.  ChinchewQuanzhou Zhangzhou  changchow Zhangzhou Longyan Yongding Liancheng Changting Amoy Tigers LianchengLongyan Wuyi Mountain Guide Zhuxi  tea Wuyi Mtn Ningde Taimu Mountain ZhouningNingde Putian Fujian Xianyou Mazu TemplePutian Sanming Scenic Wonderland Mingxi Gem bed rubies Sanming
Zhouning Carp VillageZhouning
Hakka Earthen architecture Taimu Mtn. Hakka Earthen architecture Roundhouses Fujian covered wooden bridgesBridges Hakka Earthen architecture Jiangxi Hakka Earthen architecture Guilin Help Build an online  community for foreigners.  Join the Xiamen Guide forumOrder Books
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Gulangyu Kulangyu Kolongsoo Kolongsu Kulongsu
Gulangyu

Guide to Xiamen University Historic and modern, including departments -- Arts Science computers mathematics accounting management law department etc.Xiamen Univ

Mystic Quanzhou -- the fabled port of Zayton ( or Zaytun Zaitun Zaiton ) from which Marco Polo sailed,  Sinbad the Arab visited.  Chinchew
Quanzhou

AmoyMagic-- Travel , Resident and Business Guide to Xiamen and Fujian
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Fujian Adv

Guide to Fukien Fuhken  Bilingual Chinese English Parallel with MP3 CDFujianGuide

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DAILY LINKS
Frequently Asked Questions about Xiamen andFujianFAQs Questions?
Info on apartments or houses in Xiamen, real estate agentsReal Estate
Xiamen Shopping guide malls supermarketsShopping Download  Xiamen MapsMaps
Xiamen BookstoresBookstores
Train rail schedule for Xiamen, fukien Trains Amoy Bus ScheduleBusses
Car rental rent a car or van with driver in xiamen and fujianCar Rental

Xiamen hotels guesthouses hostels Hotels English News Services sources in Xiamen Fujian ChinaNews (CT)
Doctors Dentists Hospitals Clinics in Xiamen Jimei and Tong'an Medical & Dental
Xiamen YMCA and YWCAYMCA Volunteer! Xiamen International Christian Fellowship Expat Nondenominational interdenominational
Xiamen International Christian FellowshipXICF Fellowship 
Xiamen Churches Protestant Catholic Seventh Day Adventist Amoy Mission Missionaries AbeelChurches
Xiamen Expat Association Welcome SupportExpat Groups
Hire a Maid Household help servant baomu amah etc.Maids Xiamen Emergency and Frequently used telephone numbersPhone #s
EDUCATION
Xiamen University GuideXiamen University
Xiamen International School  International Baccalaureate ProgramXIS(Int'l School)
Study Mandarin Chinese or Minnan Dialect at Xiamen University  or with private tutorStudy Mandarin
 
China Studies Program Xiamen University  Council for Christian Colleges and Universities Washington D.C. Jay LundeliusCSP(China Studies)
Piano Island Music Events Xiamen Philharmonic OrchestraLibrary Xiamen Museum Library Science Center  World's largest organ museum Asia's largest piano museum China's first anthropology museum Sino Eurolpean art museum etc.Museums
History of Amoy Changchow Chinchew Zaiton Fukien etc.History
DINING
Xiamen restaurants dining western and Chinese cuisineRestaurants Xiamen Asian restaurants -- Singapore Thailand Thai Malaysian  Japanese Korean PhilippineAsian
Xiamen Vegetarian cuisine Nanputuo Temple Seventh Day Adventist Health foodVeggie Xiamen Restaurants Fast Food McDonalds KFC Kentucky Fried Chicken Pizza Hut Burger King (just kidding!) Cafes Coffee shopsJunk Food
Xiamen restaurants dining western and Chinese cuisineChinese Xiamen Italian Restaurants -- over 40!  Pizza pasta cheeseItalian
Western (Internationall) Cuisine in XiamenInternationalAlien visa info -- Americans, Europeans E.T. Outer space visitors
Chinese visa and passport informationVisas 4 aliens
RECREATION
Hakka Earthen architecture Massage!
Hakka Earthen architecture Beaches Kite Flying in Xiamen ChinaFly Kites
Sports -- Golf, Badminton Tennis Bowling Paint BallSports Xiamen Boardwalk One of the most beautiful boardwalks in China or anywhere else.  Along the Island Ring road over 6km long so far.Boardwalk
Xiamen Parks, recreation, hiking boardwalk etcParks Xiamen Museum Library Science Center etcPets
Bird watching in Xiamen Amoy  SwinhoeBirdwatching
Martial arts Chinese Kung FuKung Fu Hiking around Xiamen BushwalksHiking
Piano Island Music Events Xiamen Philharmonic OrchestraMusic Events
Chinese festivals and culture minnanFestival&Culture
Chinese Jokes Humor Funny China photosHumor&Chinese Jokes Humor Funny China photosFun Fotosfunny photos of China
BUSINESS
Doing Business Invest in Xiamen Fujian ChinaDoing Business
Work or teach in Xiamen, Quanzhou or other Fujian schools and universities  English French RussianJobs!(teach/work)
Hire permanent or temporary workers labor craftsmen maids tutorsHire Workers
Foreign Companies in Xiamen Joint Ventures Foreign Companies
China International Fair for Investment and Trade and Cross Straits Exchanges
CIFIT (Trade Fair)
Common Talk Xiamen Dailys Weekly English SupplementMTS(Translation)

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