BEIJING: The rituals of hongbao and chunyun continue at the heart of China’s Spring Festival, but the nature of these traditions is changing in line with wider societal developments.
Many people will undertake often arduous journeys this week as part of the chunyun, when they travel back to their hometowns from the places where they work to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
Millions will return to rural areas from the cities to which they have migrated but a China Daily article noted the growing phenomenon of the reverse chunyun, as parents travel from rural areas to visit their children in the cities.
And wherever the festival is celebrated, traditional family meals are increasingly likely to be eaten in a restaurant or prepared there for home delivery.
Additionally, a growing number are choosing to avoid family gatherings or are keeping them brief before holidaying in domestic resorts or overseas destinations.
Meanwhile, hongbao, the tradition of giving cash in a red envelope, is giving way to the widespread adoption of mobile payments for gifts as well as commerce.
A number of consumers are also exploring gifting traditions from other countries, a trend that goes beyond the New Year celebrations to include events such as weddings and baby showers, according to the South China Morning Post.
Luxury gifting in particular has suffered from the anti-corruption crackdown launched in 2012, but a new type of retailer is focused on sentiment and finding the right gift for a person, it reported, rather than enabling extravagant display through the giving of upmarket brands.
Some Chinese critics have complained how wealth and urbanisation have undermined the meaning behind the Spring Festival and made it less special than it was 20 or 30 years ago.
But Professor Zheng Tuyou from Fudan University told Shine that “Folk traditions always change with the social changes.
“Old things are gone or eliminated, replaced by new things. It’s just the way of development,” he added.
“We don’t need to be overly nostalgic about it or even try to revive old times. Let the past go.”
Sourced from South China Morning Post, China Daily, Shine; additional content by WARC staff