Decorations are one of my favourite “Spring Festival” customs. You can’t walk around China at this time of year without seeing them everywhere – at homes and shops, in the subway, even on cars or trucks. It’s very fun and festive!
In English we use “please” a lot. Use it and you’re polite. Don’t and you’re rude. So an English speaker learns the word 请 [qǐng], often translated “please”, and starts throwing it around in Chinese. Problem is, that’s not how Chinese use 请.
Many of the simple words one relies upon in one’s native language don’t exist in other languages – not in the form one is accustomed to. For example, in China it’s uncommon to say 谢谢 when the person is doing something they are paid for.
Many foreigners have had the experience of asking for 水 shuǐ and receiving a blank stare. The problem is that “water” doesn’t mean in Chinese what it means in English. Chinese don’t just ask for 水, they specify what kind of 水!
Mandarin Chinese has no true equivalents for the English words “yes” and “no”. Although at first it seems complicated (“why can’t they just say yes and no?!”) once you understand it, Mandarin allows for a wide range of subtle responses.