As a foreigner living in China, one of the things I miss most about home are the holidays. A delightful surprise awaited me on my trip to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding this February during Chun Jie, or Spring Festival, that is celebrated in conjunction with the Lunar New Year.

I walked through the front gate and was de-lighted to see every tree adorned with round, red lanterns. The stark contrast of the green leaves and the red decorations immediately made me feel as though I stood inside an actual Christmas tree or holiday snow globe. Families and friends teemed about, taking pictures at the waterfall and koi pond, and there was a general air of merriment and relaxation. Walking through the park, more red lanterns swayed gracefully from the Arching bamboo over the pathways, giving a magical feel to the entire experience.

Though far from home, this visit to the Chengdu Panda Base with its holiday decor stirred feelings of warmth and familiarity in my heart. It was stunning to note that something as simple as a small, red lantern could bring so much peace.