4 new things about today’s Spring Festival in China | China Unlocked

By Wang Hai

Spring Festival, also known as Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year, is undoubtedly the most important holiday for all Chinese people around the world. Today, the holiday is not only celebrated by people in China, but it has also evolved into one of the world’s most famous non-western festivals.

Having been celebrating Spring Festival for thousands of years, Chinese people have their own conventions for this holiday. Dumplings, red lanterns, red envelopes and fireworks are the most notable. However, some of these well-known traditions have taken on a modern twist today. Here are 5 new trends this year which you probably didn’t know about!

 

Red envelope on the phone

In Chinese societies, a red envelope is a monetary gift which is given during holidays or special occasions such as weddings or birthdays, and Spring Festival is the best occasion to give them.

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Ever since 2014, mobile service giants such as WeChat and Alipay allow people to distribute virtual red envelopes of money to contacts and groups via its mobile payment platform. This year, Ali and Tencent introduced Augmented Reality (AR) technology into their apps, continually merging the gaps between smart phone and real life.

 

Deliverable family dinner

For pretty much all Chinese people, the family dinner is not only an essential part of the Spring Festival, but also a good opportunity for a family reunion. Thus, much alike Christmas dinner, family dinner on New Year’s Eve used to be the biggest meal of the year, which makes the preparation awfully complicated.

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This year, the online food ordering service app Meituan introduced its first “Spring Festival Meal” option, via which people can order their half-done or done family meal online during Spring Festival. The service perfectly fulfilled the needs of many young families.

 

24-hour gift shop

Preparing gifts for families and friends is another Spring Festival tradition. Even though China has the world’s biggest online shopping network, many e-commerce platforms stop their service during the holiday.

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This year, platforms such as T-mall and JD kept their business open together with the corresponding delivery services, making it easier to shop for holiday gifts.

 

High speed migration

Chunyun (春运), also referred to as the Spring Festival travel season is a period of travel in China with extremely high traffic load around the time of Chinese New Year. It is undoubtedly the world’s biggest migration. In 2016, the number of passenger journeys during the Chunyun reached over three billion. So it is easy to imagine how hard it is to get a ticket during this time, especially for those whose hometown has a large population.

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On the other hand, China’s high speed railway network has developed well over the last 5 years, and it has changed the history of Chunyun: over 40% of passenger journeys involved high speed trains in 2017. Costing more than 45 hours in the past, it only takes you 10 hours from Beijing, China’s capital city in the north of the country, to Guangzhou, southern China’s metropolis, via high speed train.

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