China / Society

Going abroad for Lunar New Year

By ZHENG XIN/XIAO LIXIN (China Daily) Updated: 2015-02-18 09:09

Going abroad for Lunar New Year

Revelers in traditional Chinese opera costumes take part in a Spring Festival parade in Paris in February last year. HUWEI / FOR CHINA DAILY

The approach of Spring Festival could be easily detected in overseas Chinatowns shortly after the clock rang in 2015. Although the new year of the traditional Chinese calendar starts on Feb 19, Asian restaurants, groceries and supermarkets in large foreign cities around the world were stocking up on seasonal goods of all kinds, from red lanterns to Spring Festival scrolls, for local Chinese residents to do their Chinese New Year shopping.

Still, there are nostalgic voices among Chinese who complain that the lively Spring Festival mood that prevailed before the 21st century seems to be fading, even though standards of living were not as high back then.

Traditions such as spending Chinese New Year's Eve with the family and sitting at dinner tables graced by a traditional spread have made way for new practices, they say, as many Chinese families have opted to spend Chinese New Year overseas in recent years.

This will be the third year that Wei Wei, a 34-year-old college teacher in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, will travel with his architect wife, Yu Shuli, and spend Spring Festival in a foreign country, after they had a pleasant time doing so in 2013.

"It is too cold in Hangzhou in the winter. That was the biggest reason why my wife and I wanted to spend the new year elsewhere, preferably somewhere tropical," Wei said. "We were surprised that when we mentioned our plan to our parents, they agreed without hesitation. They also feel that the Chinese New Year has become a mere formality."

With approval and support from the older generation, the couple decided to arrange a trip to Bangkok and Chiangmai in Thailand during Chinese New Year in 2013.

"Thailand is the perfect choice for us, because it not only meets our aim of spending the holiday somewhere warm with tasty exotic dishes, especially fresh seafood, but also because it is less costly in Southeast Asia," Wei said.

The couple "got addicted" to the idea and decided to continue the new practice.

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