It's Chinese New Year! There are decorations everywhere, it seems. The above picture is of entryway of our apartment building - notice all the red and gold velvety banners, and the hanging decorations of various kinds with long red tassles. The pictures to the right and below show a big display (from the front and back) just inside our apartment lobby.
Little shops and stands selling decorations have popped up all over the place. The most common kinds are rectangular or diamond-shaped, with a word or phrase in Mandarin in the middle, and elaborate red and/or gold designs around it. Most of the words are about prosperity or good luck for the new year. This is the beginning of the Year of the Rat in the Chinese calendar, and so many of the decorations we've seen feature pictures of cute mice.
The funniest thing, in my opinion, is that a lot of them have Mickey Mouse (often with Minnie or other Disney friends), dressed in traditional Chinese clothes! We've been told that this is perfectly legal; I guess the company that makes them arranged with Disney to buy the right to use Mickey this year. In any case, it's fun seeing "East meets West" in the Mickey Chinese New Year banners, which have rapidly become very popular here.