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Reveling in a home away from home
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Spring Festival fireworks will light the way home for Australian Ben Davidson, who will travel to a hutong in downtown Beijing to spend the holiday with his in-laws.

The 28-year-old is among many foreigners in China who embrace the spirit of the season and like many Chinese, he believes it is a time for the family to get together.

"I am looking forward to catching up with my family, most of them I might see maybe one or two times a year, but we always spend Spring Festival together," he said.

This is Davidson's fourth Spring Festival in China and he plans to spend it enjoying his favorite Lunar New Year pastime-chowing down mounds of meat and seafood, which his mother-in-law prepares every year.

Englishman Andy Sheridan said he will also be enjoying his fair share of local cuisine when he and his Chinese wife embrace the tradition of visiting relatives.

"We have family dinners for about two weeks straight, usually starting at the home of the head of the household-the grandparents'-and finishing up with a more distant relative's, probably a second uncle or something," the 35-year-old said.

Sheridan said when he is not actively engaging his family, he likes sitting on the balcony with his wife, enjoying drinks and reflecting on the past year against the backdrop of festive fireworks.

For some, the unparalleled display of pyrotechnics is what keeps them in the city for the holiday.

American Aly Yon, 42, could barely contain her excitement as she recalled celebrating her first Spring Festival in China last year.

"I was completely shocked and amazed, they have nothing like this in the United States," she said.

"I was told beforehand it would be big, but I really was blown away. It put anything you would see at Disneyland to shame."

Yon, her husband and two daughters were scheduled to move back to the US earlier this year, but after witnessing last year's extravagant celebrations, they changed their plans.

For others, the festival is an opportunity to relax, as cities such as Beijing become something like ghost towns because so many people have returned home.

German student Carlo Wolbeck said he will take in the fireworks and sit about his apartment watching DVDs and drinking beer.

"It's really like seven days of boredom for me," the 18-year-old said.

(China Daily February 5, 2008)

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