Chinese New Year: A Round-up

Today is chu-san, the third day of the new lunar year. China is essentially closed since everyone gets at least a 7-day holiday and many will be gone from their jobs or schools for a month or more.

To give you a feel for how the holiday is being celebrated, here’s a round-up of some interesting articles that have been published recently.

The New York Times highlights the mass migration that takes place over the holiday, as millions make the trek back to their hometowns:

“I get to go back just once a year. It’s a long way,” Mr. Xu said as he heaved the television, bundled in protective clothing, through the railway station. He was headed to a village outside Chengdu, the capital of the southwestern province of Sichuan, a journey he estimated would take about 20 hours.

“My father is in the countryside, and the family is hard up,” said Mr. Xu, a middle-aged construction laborer in Beijing, the Chinese capital. “He always wanted a flat-screen television, so I’m taking mine home to give him.”

He and most other passengers at this cavernous, thrumming station were among hundreds of millions of Chinese on the move for the Lunar New Year. Many wore red hats or scarves, the color of good luck. While the total number of holiday travelers is hard to pin down, this is the world’s largest annual migration.

The Guardian also has a wonderful photo spread of what has come to be known as “the Great Migration.”

The holiday is also called “Spring Festival.” The Beijinger explains:

For thousands of years it was simply called the New Year, at least according to the lunar-solar calendar. So what changed?

Well, the calendar for one.  

On January 1, 1912 Sun Yat-sen declared the founding of the Republic of China. One of the perks carried over from the old imperial era was that the founder of a new government gets to set the calendar. Sun chose the Gregorian calendar and, to avoid any confusion, declared January 1 “New Year’s Day." This required a re-branding of the Lunar-Solar New Year as something else, which is when the term “Spring Festival” was born.  

Good ol’ Sun Yat-sen!

Do you want to know what to eat? The blog Sapore di Cina introduces us to the food that is traditionally eaten during Spring Festival; first and foremost, of course is jiaozi (which they liken to ravioli).

The 饺子, besides having a symbolic meaning (the pasta of the ravioli encloses and keeps the filling together, just like a family, protected and united), is also the perfect occasion for getting the whole family together to prepare the ravioli, to then eat them all together.

Finally, here is a video clip that has gone viral in China this year. It is of a performance by a Chamber Singers ensemble in Shanghai, singing an original work about the travails of young people returning home from the cities and having to explain to family and relatives why they aren’t smart enough, rich enough, important enough, or why they don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend.

On behalf of the team at ChinaSource, Happy Year of the Rooster!