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New Spring Festival trends in China

2018-February-28       Source: Chinadaily.com.cn

Celebrations for Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, are taking on a new look with economic growth and the rapid development of internet and new technologies.

Editor's note: Celebrations for Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, are taking on a new look with economic growth and the rapid development of internet and new technologies.

Traditional celebrations have been given a modern touch: family reunion dinners on lunar New Year's Eve have gradually moved from home tables to restaurants; sending and receiving digital red envelopes is all the rage; traveling, cinema- and museum-going with family members prevail as holiday activities.

Here are some new trends in spending the just-concluded Spring Festival holiday, which ran from Feb 15 to 21.

New Year dinner: Eating out, eating easier

The family reunion dinner on lunar New Year's eve is the most important meal of the age-old festival. The grand dinner used to take families days to prepare and cook and usually contain eight or 10 dishes. With family income growing, people nowadays tend to choose more convenient options, however: dining in restaurants or ordering takeout.

A recent report released by the Ministry of Commerce said the revenue of China's catering industry reached 926 billion yuan ($146 billion) during the Spring Festival holiday, up 10.2 percent compared to the same period last year.

More than 95 percent of famous chain restaurants were booked up for the New Year Eve dinner, it said.

Online battles for luck

Ahead of lunar New Year, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba launched an online campaign inviting all its users to collect Chinese characters for fu, meaning "good fortune". By collecting five fu, people will have opportunities to take a share from cash rewards totaling 500 million yuan ($80 million).

The process of collecting was as simple as using phones to scan the word's Chinese characters.

More than 250 million internet users finished the task successfully, according to data from the company. Although many of them ended up with less than five yuan, what mattered more for them is finding luck in the new year.

The activity was welcomed by over 2,300 cities around the world, including Tokyo, Bangkok and Seoul, the company said.

Also prevalent during the holiday break was giving out hongbao, or red envelopes, via the country's major messaging app WeChat. According to a report released by WeChat on Wednesday, more than 768 million people sent and received red envelopes through the messaging app during the festival break, up 10 percent year-on-year.

Among them, an unnamed internet user from Nanchang in East China's Jiangxi province became the luckiest person by receiving a total of 3,429 red envelopes. The most generous user, according to the report, was a man from Chongqing in Southwest China, who sent out 2,723 red envelopes in five days.

Family travel

Traditionally, the Spring Festival was a festival when people headed back home to gather with family members. But nowadays, traveling is all the rage.

The number of domestic trips hit a record high of 386 million during the seven-day holiday, an increase of 12.1 percent year-on-year, according to a report from the China National Tourism Administration. Revenue generated during the holiday reached 475 billion yuan ($75 billion), 12.6 percent above the 2017 mark.

More than 50 percent of Chinese families took self-driving trips during the break, said the report.

Outbound tourism was also popular. Southeast Asia was the top overseas destination for Chinese tourists, according to data from China's biggest online travel agency Ctrip. More than 20 percent of the company's Chinese customers visited Thailand, making it the most favored foreign destination, followed by 13 percent to Japan and 10 percent to Singapore.

Movie and art market booms during holiday

China's box office sales totaled a record-breaking 5.7 billion yuan ($900 million) during the weeklong holiday, growing over 60 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of China.

Detective Chinatown 2 raked in 1.9 billion yuan ($300 million), Monster Hunt 2 earned 1.7 billion yuan ($270 million) and war-themed Operation Red Sea took 1.2 billion yuan ($190 million).

Major museums in the country also welcomed flocks of visitors.

The Palace Museum in Beijing, for example, received more than 500,000 people during the seven-day holiday. Three major museums in Chengdu (Wuhou Shrine, Du Fu Thatched Cottage Museum and Jinsha Site Museum), a popular tourist city in Southwest China, saw visits by nearly 1.4 million people.

Editor: Sylvia Xu

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