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Young Chinese greet festival in new fashion
Updated: 2005-02-12 10:12

The Spring Festival, Chinese Lunar New Year, is China's most significant holiday of the year, when families get together to celebrate.

In modern times, however, the old ways of spending the new year no longer meet the needs of young people, who have created various new ways to celebrate the traditional holiday.

According to a survey on New Year traditions in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, 50 percent of the respondents said the first thing they think of about New Year is the New Year's Eve family reunion dinner.

But in today's society, people are not as stable as they used to be, changing jobs and moving to another city to work is quite common. In the city, the small-scale families, usually just a husband and a wife without any relatives around, are mainstream, and having a big family reunion dinner is difficult.

To tackle the problem, Zhang Chen, who works for an IT company in Beijing, had New Year's Eve dinner with families of her three good friends from college. They all got married in Beijing and couldn't make it back to their hometowns because of work.

"We were good friends in college," said Zhang Chen. "But we areall very busy with our work, so we don't have much time to get together. Having the family dinner together is not only a good wayto create a holiday atmosphere, but also a good chance for us to catch up."

It has become quite popular to have New Year's Eve dinner with friends' families among young people who work in different cities with their relatives and cannot go back because of work. For them,the more important part of the dinner is to get together with friends.

People who have a longer holiday such as Li Qian, a magazine editor, tend to go outside the city to celebrate.

"We are going to walk alongside the Yellow River, then go to the Shaaxi countryside to celebrate the New Year," said Li. "I feel that I can only have a truly traditional New Year celebrationin the countryside."

Last year, Li spent the New Year with his friends in Junxian County, central China's Henan Province. Interested in folk craftwork, Li bought two boxes of local products such as a specialkind of mud sculpture and New Year paintings, only available during the Spring Festival.

"Everything in the countryside is very traditional, just like how people celebrated the New Year in old times, while in the citythere isn't much holiday atmosphere," Li said. "The farmers are very down-to-earth and they have kept all the traditions."

Zhang Jian, who works for an interior design company in Beijing,also likes to spend the New Year outside the city.

Zhang and four of his colleagues drove to Yunmengxia Canyon in the suburbs of Beijing on New Year's Eve.

"We want to experience something different when the whole country is drinking, eating and sitting comfortably on the couch watching TV," Zhang said.

With three packs of instant noodles, a bottle of salt, an army knife, tow lighters and a coat, Zhang meant "to suffer" in the cold night in the mountain, so he would better appreciate his life.

Zhang and his friends are not the only ones tired of city life and trying to get some energy back from nature.

Wang Yuan, a software developer went jokul climbing in southwest China's Sichuan Province during the Spring Festival holiday. "The hardship of climbing is beyond imagination, but the pleasure and satisfaction you get after you conquer a mountain is also beyond word," Wang said.

But those who have to work during the Spring Festival can't go anywhere. Zhou Lei, who works for an advertising company in Beijing, has to work during the week-long holiday. He is spending his New Year online.

Many Chinese portals launched special sections for the New Yearcreating virtual communities decorated with spring festival couplets and New Year paintings where people could have virtual dumplings, visit the virtual temple fair and even play fireworks online.

"I can meet many people who have the same experience as I do," Zhou said. "It's easy for us to find common topics and I don't feel too lonely that way."

Xiao Zhao from China University of Mining and Technology will stays in Beijing for the New Year, too.

"To say 'Happy New Year' online through a web camera to my parents is more exciting than the old way," Zhao said. "My parentswere so excited and happy when they saw me on the New Year's Eve online from thousands of miles away. But we felt so close together."

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