Spring Festival in China 中国春节

A view from our colleague, David

再过不到一周时间就是中国的春节了,在这里给大家分享一些有关春节的趣事。有些大家可能知道,有些可能不知道。知道的就看我说的对不对,不知道的可以了解一下:

It will be Chinese Spring Festival in less than a week. Here we share some interesting things about the Spring Festival. Some of you may know, some may not. You can check whether I'm right or wrong basing on what you know, while you can learn what you don't know. 


1. 春运 Spring Festival travel rush

在大城市工作的我们首先对春节最直观的感受就是每年固定的春运。每年春节回家都要绞尽脑汁去抢火车票,仍然一票难求。今年的春运从2019121日开始到31日结束,一共持续40天,包含回家和返程的两个部分。除去从除夕到初二的短暂三天人数回落外,剩余的时间从火车、汽车到飞机都是人满为患。数亿计的人们在此期间完成从工作的城市到家的来回迁徙。这是世界上最壮观的短期人口迁徙活动,而且每年都在上演。在中国人的观念中,在外打拼一年,无论是否成功,无论是否赚到钱,无论路途是否遥远,都要在春节回家。家是中国人难以绕开的心灵港湾。

Working in big cities, we first have the most intuitive feeling of the fixed Spring Festival travel rush every year. Every Spring Festival, when we go home, we have to rack our brains to grab train tickets, which are always hard to get. This year's Spring Festival travel rush began on January 21, 2019, and will end on March 1. It will last for 40 days, including two parts: home and return. Except for the three short days from New Year's Eve to the second day of Chinese New Year, the rest of the time, from trains, cars to airplanes, are overcrowded. In the meantime, hundreds of millions of people have migrated from working cities to their homes. This is the most spectacular short-term migration activity in the world, and it takes place every year. In Chinese people's view, if you work outside for a year, whether you succeed or not, whether you earn money or not, whether you travel far or not, you must go home during the Spring Festival. Home is the soul harbor that Chinese people can hardly bypass. 


这种现象的产生是由于中国的城市化进程和经济发展的不平衡造成的,大量的人员从中西部的农村落后地区到东部沿海,尤其是以环北京、长三角和珠三角为代表的经济发达地区,去工作、学习。每到春节假期期间,像北京、上海这种大城市大约有三分之一到二分之一的常驻人口将短暂离开,回到自己在中西部的老家过年。这将意味着这些大城市的人口瞬间减少几百万乃至上千万。平日里拥堵的马路、人满为患的地铁都变得冷冷清清。

This phenomenon is caused by the unbalanced process of urbanization and economic development in China. A large number of people go to work and study from the undeveloped rural areas in the central and western regions to the eastern coastal areas, especially in the economically developed areas around Beijing, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta. During the Spring Festival holidays, about one-third to one-half of the permanent population in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai will leave for a short time and return to their homes in the Midwest for the Spring Festival. This will mean that the population of these big cities will drop by millions or even tens of millions in an instant. Congested roads and overcrowded metros on weekdays have become cold and empty.

每个人根据自己的预算选择不同的交通工具,飞机属于少数富人,铁路因为其安全、准时以及大运量成为大多数人最好的选择。而广阔的领土、密集的人口以及定期迁徙的强烈需求促使中国发展出了世界领先的高铁交通体系。随着经济的发展和居民收入的增加,也有越来越多的人选择自驾回家。这也在一定程度上促使中国成为了世界第一大汽车消费国。而相对温暖的南方珠三角地区每年会有几十万乃至上百万的人选择骑摩托车回家,壮观的车队汇聚成洪流,仿佛非洲大草原上那逐水草迁徙的角马群。

Everyone chooses different means of transportation according to their own budget. Airplanes belong to the few wealthy people. Railway is the best choice for most people because of its safety, punctuality and large capacity. China has developed the world's leading high-speed rail transport system because of its vast territory, dense population and strong demand for regular migration. With the development of economy and the increase of residents' income, more and more people choose to drive home by themselves. To some extent, this has made China the world's largest automobile consumer. In the relatively warm southern Pearl River Delta region, hundreds of thousands or even millions of people choose to ride motorcycles home every year. The spectacular convoys converge into a torrent, just like the wildebeest migrating over water and grass on the African savanna.

2. 年会Year-end party activities

几乎所有的中国公司在春节前都会组织或大或小的年终晚会活动。大公司会包下整个体育场,数万名员工聚在一起聆听老板们对于过去一年的总结以及对新年的展望,当然更让人激动的莫过于之后进行的歌舞节目、颁奖、抽奖环节。小公司几人到几十人聚在一起吃顿晚餐,大家一起畅聊过去的这一年,展望未来一年。进入中国市场的外企,也很快会加入这场年终的狂欢,老板们觉得这样对公司的凝聚力大有帮助。

Almost all Chinese companies organize year-end party activities large or small before the Spring Festival. For big companies, tens of thousands of employees gather to listen to their boss summarize the past year and their expectations for the New Year. Of course, what is more exciting is the subsequent singing and dancing shows, awards and lottery draws. For small companies, people gather for dinner, talking about the past year and looking forward to the next year. Foreign companies entering the Chinese market will soon join in the year-end carnival, which bosses feel is of great help to the company's cohesion. 


3. 称呼Name-giving

随着中国的国际化,很多人开始在大城市从事和国际交流相关的工作,为了沟通便利,很多中国人会取一个英文的名字,并在大城市的高端写字楼里成为自己的标签。然后随着春节回到老家农村,见到长辈,称呼又变回充满乡土气息的小名了。关于小名,传统的中国人认为出生的孩子取一个越土越贱的小名将来会更容易养活。所以呢网上流传着一个段子,每到一过春节,大城市的大楼里的托尼,迈克和露西,就变回了乡村里的狗子、铁蛋和翠花。

With the internationalization of China, many Chinese people have begun to work in international cities. For the convenience of communication, many Chinese will take an English name and become their own label in high-end office buildings in big cities. Then, as they return to their hometown in the Spring Festival, and see their elders, the name changes back to a small name that was full of local flavors. Regarding nicknames, the traditional Chinese believe that a child will take a nickname and will be easier to support in the future. Therefore, every time during the Spring Festival, Tony, Mike and Lucy in the big city building have changed back to the Gouzi(dog), Tiedan(iron eggs) and Cuihua (green flowers) in the countryside. (Remark:  Gouzi, Tiedan are very popular nickname for boy and Cuihua is popular nickname for girl in rural area of China)

 

4. 春晚Spring Festival Gala

每年中国中央电视台都会耗费大量的人力、物力和财力来打造一场跨年晚会给全国人民看。从除夕夜的八点开始,持续四个半小时,到12点半结束。里面包含了歌舞、杂技、小品、相声乃至戏剧等等中国人喜闻乐见的节目。并且央视会邀请在过去的一年中最火的明星加盟节目,甚至会从中国娱乐发达的港澳台甚至国外邀请明星来满足人们日益增长的观赏需求。然而即便是他们绞尽脑汁的讨好观众,大家还是觉得春晚的质量一年不如一年。越来越多的年轻人选择忽视它。可实际的数据分析揭示,春晚每年仍有数以亿计的人在观看。中国乃至世界上顶级的互联网公司BAT近几年来都会和春晚合作,提供一些互动服务。然而由于瞬间超高的访问量,以及新加入的用户,导致他们的运维工程师都会在这个时段战战兢兢,乃至烧香拜佛,祈祷服务器不要瘫痪掉。

Every year, China Central Television (CCTV) will spend a lot of manpower, material and financial resources to create a New Year's Eve party for the people of the whole country to see. Starting at 8:00PM on New Year's Eve, it lasts four and a half hours and ends at 12:30PM. It includes songs and dances, acrobatics, sketches, cross talk and even drama, which are popular with Chinese people. And CCTV will invite the hottest stars of the past year to join the program, and even invite stars from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and foreign countries to meet people's growing viewing demands. However, even if they try their best to please the audience, people still feel that the quality of the Spring Festival Gala is not as good as that of previous years - more and more young people choose to ignore it. While, actual data analysis reveals that hundreds of millions of people still watch the Spring Festival Gala every year. BAT (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent), the world's leading Internet company, has been cooperating with the Spring Festival Gala in recent years to provide some interactive services. However, due to the instantaneous super-high traffic, as well as new users, their operation and maintenance engineers will tremble at this time, and even burn incense to worship Buddha, praying that the server will not be paralyzed.....



很多中国富裕起来的中产阶级在平时都可以通过各种途径欣赏到高质量的文化娱乐节目,所以春晚对他们的吸引力逐年的下降。然而数以亿计的散落在在广大小城镇和农村国人仍然对春晚报以浓厚的兴趣。

Many of China's wealthy middle class can enjoy high-quality cultural entertainment programs through various channels daily, so the attraction of the Spring Festival Gala to them is declining year by year. However, hundreds of millions of people scattered in small towns and rural areas are still interested in the Spring Festival Gala.

5. 走亲戚 Visiting relatives

中国春节的习俗是初一自己玩,从初二开始到初五要去走亲戚。初二一般是去自己的岳父岳母家,初三才是姑姑、婶婶等,总之按着关系从近到远把自己的亲戚走一个遍。而且都是晚辈去拜访长辈,去的时候礼物是必不可少的。走的时候,长辈也会回赠礼物,这叫礼尚往来。一般的场景是中年人带这年轻的孩子去老人家做客,一家人其乐融融的围坐在餐桌旁。这就是中国人追求的合家欢的幸福场景。

The custom of Chinese Spring Festival is to play by oneself in the first day of the Chinese New Year, and to visit relatives from the second day to the fifth day. The second day is usually to go to the father-in-law and mother-in-law's home, and the third day is aunt, uncle, etc. According to the relationship, travel to relatives goes from near to far. And all the younger generations visit their elders. Gifts are essential when they go. When you leave, the elders will also give back their gifts as reciprocity. The general scene is that the middle-aged man takes the young child to the old man's house and the family sits happily around the dining table. This is the happy scene of family happiness pursued by Chinese people. 


6. 红包/压岁钱 Red envelopes / lucky money

使用过微信或者支付宝的朋友们一定知道它们有一个非常受欢迎的应用叫发红包。说到红包其实就是源于春节红包。传统中国的习俗,每到过年,老板会给员工发红包,长辈会给晚辈发红包,对于未成年的孩子又叫压岁钱,庆祝孩子又健康的成长了一岁。红包一般有成家且有孩子的长辈发给晚辈,一般是自己给别的亲戚家的孩子发红包,别家孩子的父母回赠红包给自己家孩子。大体上每年的支出和收入相等。比如自己家只有一个孩子,别人家有两个孩子,那么一般的情况是,你给他们两个孩子每人五十,而对方则会给你一个孩子一百。当然对于自己的兄弟姐妹的孩子,因为关系比较近,一般是自己参加工作可以赚钱之后,无论是否结婚有孩子,都会给发红包。而一旦孩子们长大后,或者参加工作后,或者结婚后,就没有红包可拿了。而变成了向外发红包。

Friends who have used WeChat or Alipay must know that they have a very popular application called red envelopes. When it comes to red envelopes, they actually originate from the red envelopes of the Spring Festival. Traditionally, in China, every New Year's Day, employers give red envelopes to employees and elders give red envelopes to younger generations. For minor children, it is also called lucky money to celebrate their healthy growth of another year. Red envelopes are usually given to the younger generation by the elders who are married and have children. They are usually given to the children of other relatives. The parents of other children give red envelopes back to their own children. Generally speaking, annual expenditure and income are equal. For example, if there is only one child in one family and two children in another family, then the general situation is that you give their two children each of 50RMB, while the other side will give your only child of 100RMB. Of course, for the children of their brothers and sisters, because the relationship is relatively close, usually after they can earn money by taking part in their own work, whether they marry or have children, they will give red envelopes. Once the children grow up, work or get married, there is no red envelope to take. It is their turns to give others red envelopes. 


7. 鞭炮 Firecrackers

传说在远古时代的中国,有个叫年的怪兽定期会跑出来吃人。祖先们为了吓跑年,发明了鞭炮,靠它的响声和爆发出的火光来驱逐怪兽。效果十分灵验,所以这个习俗就沿用下来了。过了年这个关口,新的希望就到了,这也是过年的由来。流传到现在的具体做法是,大年初一要早早的起床去放一种叫做闪光雷的八响的细长的圆筒状的鞭炮;然后在早餐之前会放那种500响到数万响的大型鞭炮。一般响声越多代表这个家里越富裕,庆祝的规格也越高。其实这个习俗已经扩展了,不仅是在春节,在任何喜庆的日子,如结婚、新店开业或者新工程奠基等都会放鞭炮来庆祝。

Legend has it that in ancient China, a monster named Nian(year) regularly came out to eat people. The ancestors invented firecrackers to frighten away Nian, expelling monsters by their sound and fire. The result was very effective, so this custom has been used. At this juncture of New Year's Day, new hopes will come, which is also the origin of New Year's Day. The current practice is to get up early on New Year's Day to set off a slender, cylindrical firecracker called Flash Thunder, and then to set off those large firecrackers sound ranging from 500 to tens of thousands before breakfast. Generally, the more the sound, the richer the family, the higher the standard of celebration. In fact, this custom has been expanded, not only in the Spring Festival, but also in any festive day, such as marriage, opening a new shop or laying the foundation of a new project, firecrackers will be fired to celebrate. 



随着时代的进步和科技的发展,鞭炮也发展出了五花八门的品类。每到春节的时候,这都是小孩子的最爱。然而由于放鞭炮可能会诱发火灾和产生噪音污染,再加上要求越来越严格的空气环境保护,很多城市,尤其是像北京、上海等大城市都禁止在市区里面放鞭炮。但政府也不好强力改变中国的传统习俗,所以有些折中的做法就是会在一些城市广场的开放区域设置一些临时的鞭炮燃放点供大家娱乐。当然,像北京等城市的环境污染很严重,PM2.5在冬季常常爆表的情况下,大家也达成了共识:拒绝烟花爆竹,以净化空气。

With the progress of the times and the development of science and technology, firecrackers have also developed a variety of categories. Every Spring Festival, this is the favorite of children. However, as firecrackers may cause fire and noise pollution, coupled with increasingly stringent air environmental protection requirements, many cities, especially Beijing, Shanghai and other big cities, prohibit firecrackers in urban areas. But the government is not good at forcefully changing Chinese traditional customs, so some compromise is to set up temporary firecrackers in the open areas of some city squares for entertainment. Of course, environmental pollution in cities like Beijing is very serious. When PM2.5 often bursts watches in winter, people have reached a consensus: refuse fireworks to purify the air.


8. 饺子/汤圆 Dumplings/Tangyuan

中国饮食文化源远流长,所谓舌尖上的中国。过节当然不能少了吃。其他的不说。单说特别的食物。传统中国的新年饭,有些地是在除夕晚上吃年夜饭,有些是在初一早上吃新年第一餐。北方面食区域必不可少的是饺子,取谐音“交”,寓意“辞旧迎新”和“新旧之交”;南方米食区必不可少的是汤圆,寓意“团团圆圆”和“和谐圆满”。

Chinese food culture has a long history, so-called “A Bite of China”. Of course, we can't say enough about the importance of food during the festival. Traditional Chinese New Year's meals are eaten on New Year's Eve in some places, or as the first meal on the morning of the first day of the New Year. Dumplings are indispensable in the northern ‘pasta’ area, which means "leaving the old to welcome the new" and "meeting of the past and future". Tangyuan is indispensable in the southern ‘rice food’ area, which means "reunion" and "harmony and perfection". 


9. 春联和门画 Spring Festival couplets and door paintings

春节最明显的标识就是春联和门画了。春联分成三部分:横批,上联和下联。横批有四个汉字组成,一般是成语,寓意吉祥美好。上下联类似中国古典诗歌的上下句子,有工整对仗且读起来押韵的寓意美好的文字组成。横批贴在门框上面,上下联贴在门框的两边,中国人尚右边,一般上联贴右边,下联贴左边。门画就是贴在门上的了。一般是古代中国的威风八面的大将军或者是吉祥可爱的娃娃的画像。大将军门画一般贴在大门,当门神,吓走前来捣乱的妖魔鬼怪。它不能说贴,应该是“请门神”以示尊敬。吉祥福娃则贴在室内的小门上寓意吉祥。春联和门画都是以中国人最喜欢的红色作为背景,寓意红红火火。

The most obvious signs of the Spring Festival are Spring Festival couplets and door paintings. Spring Festival couplets are divided into three parts: horizontal batches, up-link and down-link. Horizontal batches consist of four Chinese characters, usually idioms, which imply auspiciousness and beauty. The upper and lower sentences are similar to those of classical Chinese poetry. They are composed of well-organized and rhymed words. Horizontal batches are pasted on the top of the door frame, the up-link and down-link are pasted on both sides of the door frame. Chinese people still have the right side. Generally, the up-link is pasted on the right side and the down-link is pasted on the left side. The door painting is pasted on the door. Generally speaking, it is a portrait of a grand general or a lucky and lovely doll in ancient China. General door paintings are usually pasted on the door as the door god, frighten away the evil spirits who come to make trouble. It can't be said to be posted. It should be "invite the door god" to show respect. The lucky baby sticks on the door of the room to imply good luck. Spring Festival couplets and door paintings are all set in red, which is the favorite color of the Chinese people, meaning of prosperity.

  

 

说到这里就不得不提一个特殊的门画,福字门画了。这里需要解释的是大部门门画都是人物像,也有少部分以毛笔书写的大个汉字作为门画的,这一般都是美好的字。其中频率最高的是福字。这两年使用支付宝的朋友每到除夕前都在用二维码扫福字来集齐五福来瓜分红包。这是中国传统习俗和现代互联网科技的融合。福字门画在贴时也是有讲究的,不能正着贴,要倒过来贴,寓意福到了!因为倒和到在汉语里是谐音。

Speaking of this, we have to mention a special door painting, the ‘Fu’ door painting. What needs to be explained here is that most door paintings are portraits, and a small number of large Chinese characters written with brushes as door paintings, which are generally beautiful words. Among them, the word "Fu" has the highest frequency. In the past two years, friends who use Alipay have used the QR code to scan the character ‘Fu’ to collect the five different ‘Fu’ to divide the Bonus Pack before the New Year’s Eve. This is the integration of Chinese traditional customs and modern Internet technology. Fu paintings are also fastidious when they are pasted. They cannot be pasted directly. They should be pasted upside down, which implies that happiness has arrived! Because the Chinese character “upside down” and “arrive” have the same pronunciation. 



10. 春节感悟 My feeling of the Spring Festival

春节是中国最重要的节日,在过去的艰苦年代,中国人背井离乡,辛勤劳作,不舍得吃好的,不舍得穿好的,都等到春节才穿新衣服,吃几天好的。所以大家都特别期盼过年。过节时大家也是发自心底的高兴。那个时代的年味很浓。

The Spring Festival is the most important festival in China. In previous years, Chinese people left their homes, worked hard, did not want to eat well, did not want to wear well, and waited until the Spring Festival to wear new clothes and eat good food for a few days. So we all look forward to the Spring Festival. At the festival, everyone is also happy from the bottom of their hearts. The festival atmosphere is very strong at that time.