Chinese youths find new ways to celebrate Spring Festival, revitalize traditions
Diversity mirrors inclusive and vibrant society, vitality of culture
Published: Feb 08, 2024 04:58 PM
People shop for Spring Festival couplets at a local market for the upcoming Chinese New Year in Haikou, south China's Hainan Province, Feb. 6, 2024.(Photo: Xinhua)

People shop for Spring Festival couplets at a local market for the upcoming Chinese New Year in Haikou, south China's Hainan Province, Feb. 6, 2024.(Photo: Xinhua)

As the Spring Festival approaches, discussions on "festive atmosphere fading away" have once again risen to the surface; yet a closer look reveals that young people are not abandoning traditions, but celebrating the festival in new and innovative ways.

Taking creative family photos, small family galas, tailored banquets, Spring Festival couplets with funny wishes… marking the festival is an epitome of communication between generations and young people are injecting new ideas, fashions and vitality into this traditional festival.

On the lifestyle platform Xiaohongshu, users share scrolls they have written. Instead of poetic wishes, the paired phrases could be numbers, emojis and plain slogans - with "Having money and knowledge; Losing weight and troubles" an often-seen refrain.

Another interesting couplets read "44444; 66666." The number four refers to music note "Fa" and carries the meaning of facai, which literally means making fortune; number six is a game-originated internet buzzword to praise someone of being awesome, smart or powerful.

These funny couplets have encouraged many people to continue the Spring Festival tradition of hanging couplets, scrolls and sticking gate-god pictures. Calligraphy, woodcut picture and traditional paining also gain popularity among Gen Zers.

Another rebounding tradition is wearing hanfu, a traditional garment of the Han people, often worn during festivals. The Global Times learned from an online hanfu seller that the warm Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) style coat and skirt had been quite popular in recent weeks.

For people born after 1990s, one of the childhood Spring Festival rituals was buying new clothes. Some still embrace the tradition of wearing hanfu with lucky patterns and embroidery as a way to ring in the new year.

Dang Hui from Luoyang, Central China's Henan Province, took her family for a hanfu family photoshoot. It was a unique experience as her mother and grandma, both seldom take photos, they were also dressed up in hanfu and had their hair done in a traditional style. 

Instead of sitting at indoors, Dang's family went to ancient-style parks and temple fairs, which have more natural light, a buoyant environment and relaxing atmosphere.

Dang chose Tang Dynasty (618-907) style clothes, combined with cuteish makeup. "Although it was cold outside, my grandma enjoyed a lot and told me she wanted to try other styles next time," Dang told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Some young people also get to know better and become interested in Spring Festival "traditions," such as visiting temple fairs, flower markets and watching lion dancing.

Meng Fan is spending the holidays with her family in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province. Meng told the Global Times that they plan to watch lion dancing, which combines martial arts, fold music and dance.

The movements, mimicking lions climbing mountains, jumping across rivers and playing with each other, carry auspicious meanings such as good health, luck, overcoming difficulties and making achievements.

"I used to think these festive events were boring, but I am wrong. Many traditional customs are interesting and the festive atmosphere is strongest when you are in crowds," Meng said. 

When most people are heading home to spend the holidays with families, there are also some young people who are tired of giving lucky money, talking with unfamiliar relatives and being lectured on their job and marriage.

Therefore some seek festival friends online and go dining, shopping and traveling together to enjoy the holidays. 

Liu, 30, decided to stay in Shanghai during the holidays and has found two Spring Festival partners to enjoy a New Year's Eve banquet with. "The group could expand as two others who decided to return home later are asking to join."

None of the friends is good at cooking, but to their relief, there are a range of pre-cooked packages available which offer a convenient delivery service, although at a higher holiday price, still available. 

Through the number of new ways to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, young people have shared creative festival ideas to their parents and grandparents, who catch up with the new trends of the times. Older generations pass on traditions while young people gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of the Spring Festival, analysts said.

In the process, the traditional culture passes on between generations and also absorbs modern elements to remain relevant making society more inclusive and dynamic. After all, the Spring Festival is a time for relaxation and joy, feeling the bonds of family and friends and regaining energy and courage for a brand new year ahead, they said.