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The Changes of Spring Festival Folk Customs in Chongqing

By JIEYU WANGTAN, KAILONGICHONGQING|Jan 22,2020

As time goes by, some old Spring Festival customs are fading away while new ones emerge. What changes are contents and forms, memories and feelings are still the same?

Spring Festival shopping: Markets vs. e-commerce platforms

Tradition Spring Festival shopping usually is in the market.

It’s a tradition for people to shop for the Spring Festival. Cakes and pastries, roasted seeds and nuts, candies, cigarettes, alcohol drinks, tea, meat, couplets, and window paper-cutting are everyday products favored by people living no matter in rural areas or cities.

Now, people buy New Year goods through online shopping.

Online shopping has become the mainstream recently as e-commerce develops. People begin to buy entertainment and tourism products, instead of food only and buy fewer products to ensure freshness.

Clean: Spring-cleaning vs. daily cleaning

Spring-cleaning is a traditional custom of China to welcome new and say farewell to the old.

In urban areas, residents frequently clean their houses, indicating the old tradition is dying. The rural environment has also been greatly improved, leaving little space for performing spring-cleaning.

Spring Festival couplets: Write vs. print

Spring Festival couplets

Spring Festival couplets, a distinctive literary form in China, carry people’s best wishes for the next year. Today, people still paste up a specifically-selected red couplet on both sides of the door to celebrate the festival. But instead of being written out, the Spring Festival couplets are mainly printed.

New Year’s Eve dinner: Restaurant vs. home

New Year’s Eve dinner in a restaurant

New Year’s Eve dinner is the highlight of the Spring Festival and the most important meal to Chinese people.

New Year’s Eve dinner at home

But it is also changing over the past few years. “New Year’s Eve dinner is an occasion for a family reunion. Either it is held at a restaurant or home, the most vital thing is that family members get together and be happy.” Mrs. Zhang, living in Xincheng Lidu, Ranjiaba, Yubei District, reserved seats for the New Year’s Eve dinner half a month ago.

Return to the wife’s parental home: The second day of the first lunar month vs. ordinary days

Return to the wife’s parental home is another unique custom of China. Traditionally, the married daughter will bring her husband and children to the parents’ house on the second day of the first lunar month. They should take gifts and prepare lucky money.

However, people no longer stick to that rule and will visit the wife’s parents during ordinary days, since the married couple may come from different places.

Spend the holiday: Go home vs. travel

‘Family reunion’ is the main theme of the Spring Festival. People working in other places once spared no effort in arriving home before the Lunar New Year’s Eve.

Human development leads to changes in customs. With better living standards and a convenient transportation system, people tend to invite parents to where they work or travel during the holiday.

Lucky money: Cash payment vs. mobile payment

Lucky money is usually given by the elder to the young, wishing them good luck and security.

Today, mobile payment is popular; therefore, “Internet + Spring Festival,” such as paying lucky money through WeChat, has become a familiar scene.

Fire-crackers: Traditional fire-crackers vs. electronic fire-crackers

In traditional Chinese culture, firecrackers were initially used to scare away evil spirits, named Nian, and bore people’s hope for a smooth new year.

To protect the environment, many places in China began to control the production, selling and setting off of fire-crackers. This year, Chongqing will continue to prohibit firecrackers in areas within the Belt Expressway. As a result, electronic fireworks, which create a festival atmosphere without polluting the environment, become popular.

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