Young Chinese Stay Home, Enjoy Lunar New Year Holiday Online
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Some young Chinese have chosen to spend the week-long Chinese Lunar New Year holiday at home. They shop online, send virtual greetings to relatives and friends, and even enjoy virtual fireworks.
The new practices, which are in stark contrast with traditional customs, have sparked controversy.
Traditionally, Spring Festival was a time for reunion of family, relatives and friends, as well as an opportunity to visit temple fairs to buy new clothes and traditional headwear.
"In can remember Spring Festival being the most important festive event that brought a sense of happiness to Chinese people. But nowadays, the holiday brings few surprises. I usually feel tired during the week and would rather stay at home," said 24-year-old Li Ying, who works at a state-owned company in Guiyang, capital city of southwest China's Guizhou Province.
"As people's living standards have improved, the sense of satisfaction traditional festive customs bring to Chinese people has faded," said netizen "Yudanfengqing" in an online posting.
"Why not stay at home to surf the Internet? You can still show affection for family members and relatives with online communication, and you can slash costs," the netizen added.
"The online fair and shopping online for the festival are closely related to stronger consumption," Zhang Jibo, a teacher with Huazhong Normal University in Wuhan, capital city of central China's Hubei Province, said.
Some Shanghai media reports ascribed the practice of online festive activities, popular among Chinese aged 25 to 35, to the small size of modern Chinese families and their weak sense of participation.
Zhang Lingling, from Mudanjiang city in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, told Xinhua Monday that since she had worked outside her hometown for many years, she have become estranged to many of her hometown relatives and friends.
"Calling on relatives make me feel exhausted now," she said.
"Most Chinese born between the 1970s and 1990s belong to the only-child generation. They have been influenced by cyber space and have had their will to communicate face-to-face weakened," said Zhai Li, professor at Northwest A&F University in Yangling, northwest China's Shaanxi Province.
Li Ying, the 24-year old working in Guiyang, said that more than anything else, the lunar New Year holiday should be a time for relaxation.
"We stay at home with our family members and feel at ease. That's enough for a holiday," she said.
According to statistics from Taobao.com, China's biggest online retail site, transaction volume in Spring Festival special goods exceeded 1 billion yuan (US$146.6 million) in January alone, much higher than the 280 million yuan a year earlier.
Zhang Jibo noted that Spring Festival traditions have accompanied the Chinese people for thousands of years. And while it is necessary for the younger generation to make efforts to conserve this traditional Spring Festival culture, new ways of enjoying the Spring Festival can also be explored, Zhang added.
The Lunar New Year began Feb. 14.
(Xinhua News Agency February 15, 2010)