Spring Festival in China 中国春节
A view from our colleague, David
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.....
5. 走亲戚 Visiting relatives
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
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
7. 鞭炮 Firecrackers
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.