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ref:topbtw-1531.html/ 29 Gennaio 2019/A

Il nuovo anno...
Chinese New Year

Cina: da un posto qualsiasi..

Chinese New Year- A Foreigner's Perspective

This year, the Lunar New Year falls on the 5th of February, which is quite early, and is the Year of the Pig (you can read my Chinese Zodiac Signs at
the last sign before the 12-year cycle starts again.

Most Chinese people have 1-2 weeks of holiday for the new year, or more accurately, the Spring Festival.

As a foreigner, the first signs of the preparation for the new year are the streets.

A few weeks before the celebration, shops start holding enormous discounts so that people buy presents to bring home.

The craziness has begun.

You go out and see people holding enormous packages and bags full of fruits, vegetables, tea, tobacco, piles of red packets (red envelopes given from older generations to the younger ones), and lots- lots- of blankets.

From this point on, it is usually best not to travel:
trains, planes and rented cars are completely sold out/full as everyone books to go home.

There is enormous urbanization in China, and over half people in each city have immigrated from the countryside to work or study.

The Spring Festival is the Chinese equivalent of Christmas in Western countries, and research shows that during this time, 1.4 billion people are travelling back to their hometowns.

Suffice to say, there is huge movement outside the cities during this time, with everyone rushing to go home.
And then, silence.

No movement.
With the cities sometimes completely emptied out, it's quiet.

And in large cities, it only happens this time of year.

Almost all shops are closed and the streets are empty.

In the beginning you rejoice, but then it is so empty that you miss the noise, the craziness, the rumble of millions of people living their lives each day in the city, now scattered throughout the smaller towns and villages of China.

Those who are local are at home, enjoying the company of their family.

But sure enough, just before Golden Week finishes, everyone who stayed in during the celebrations go outside again.

Entire families, some with over three generations, go out to amusement parks, skating, shopping, taking walks in gardens, visiting aquariums and museums, hosting large dinners at restaurants, all eager to spend the money they've received in the red packets during the Spring Festival.

Then once Golden Week is done, everyone comes back with stories to tell.

I understand Chinese, and buses, in my opinion, are the best place for story sharing.

In general, there are two types of people:
those who hated going back and are relieved they won't have to go through it all again before next year, and those who were glad to go home and miss it already.

Starting with the former, it varies with age.

For people in their twenties, going back means that the only topic mentioned is marriage.

Women in China are expected to marry from the ages of 22-26 and have children right after.

Even though many still follow this, those who want to establish a firm career first are left with a difficult situation when finding that the family already has someone in mind for them.

For older women in their thirties and forties, it is extremely hard to go home and face the topic of relationships.

There's always pressure with families on matters of raising children right, and discussions if it was the right choice to move away, cars and apartments all judged...

I know of someone who was pressured by their family to buy a car, just so they could show it off in front of the other townspeople.

Even though some of these cases are exaggerated, it is true that family pressure increases tenfold once the holidays come around.

But many are also eager to come home, longing to be reunited with the family they've left behind.

For instance, I know a lady who had to leave one of her daughters behind with her parents.

Going back means seeing her again, spending time together to catch up and make memories.

Many families are torn apart when young adults move to the cities, and for them, going back to see the whole family in the "place where it all started" is symbolic.

For those who were doubted when they moved to the city, going back with stories about what it's like is proving to their family that they made the right choice, and perhaps encouraging others to go as well.

And then, a few days after the Spring Festival, they come back.
They come back more silent, much more tired, with suitcases full of presents and souvenirs from the countryside.

They come back with new determination to start anew.

Cortesia di L.B.

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