Friendly Superstitious…

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Is the writing on the wall?

Oh wailing lament! whilst clutching at the five, very familiar stuffed toys lounging on the end of my daughter’s bed. Why did it have to be you? How will I tell my daughter the gossipy terrors that have bestricken you all? Friendly Fuwa – is it true?

Indeed. It seems that superstitions from China’s bloggists are at all all-time high, in light of recent events supposedly foreshadowed by our darling, fuzzy and very friendly Olympic mascots. Yes, Beijing’s gorgeous Friendlies have been indicted in a bloggist smear campaign that is tugging at the heartstrings of this bloggist’s heart. All I can think of is how I must hide this rot from my daughter. Never been very superstitious, me.

Of all the soft, fluffy toys my children have become enamoured with over their short 7.9 years and 5.3 years (respectively), the Beijing Olympic Friendlies still rate awfully high. The 20cm-high versions of Jingjing, Beibei, Nini, Huanhuan and Yingying (in order of preference – poor Yingying, always holding the wooden spoon) hold high status in the precious real estate on my daughter’s pink bed. Much love and affection has gone into these toys and the whole idea behind their cultural, ethical and welcoming personas, so cleverly crafted by Chinese artist Han Meilin.

Nonetheless, the warm fuzzies surrounding these adorable Fuwa seem to be turning ominous, with online suggestions the Friendlies are indeed harbingers of doom to China’s wellbeing.

Since the beginning of 2008, four disasters have been superstitiously pinned on four of our favourite friendlies – Huanhuan, who represents the Olympic flame, has been blamed for the world-wide protest issues trailing the torch in its international wake. Nini, the kite-shaped swallow, has been linked to the disastrous train-crash in Shandong, home to Weifang – China’s kite-flying capital. Yinging, the Tibetan antelope has been paralleled with the recent issues facing Tibet, and lastly, dear Jingjing, the giant panda, has been pinned for Sichuan’s earth-shattering quake.

Ridiculous scaremongering, or a little spooky?

With four out of five oddball prophecies already in the bag, this leaves only Beibei, the sturgeon fish, to fulfil its looming disaster somewhere along the Yangtze river, the only place where Chinese sturgeons reside. Adding to the hoo-ha is the fact that all of the above events have began or occurred on a date that adds up to the number 8 – Beijing’s Olympic year.

While I've never been superstitious, given the seriousness of the issues China has recently faced, I’m off to pray to the Fuwa Gods on the end of my daughter’s bed.

No – really.

First published on the City Weekend Beijing website.

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