Text by Zi Mo
As the 2013 Spring Festival draws near, Sina Weibo, China’s most popular micro-blog platform, has launched a special channel for users to post New Year greetings. In the “micro age,” increasing numbers of Chinese people have expressed their feelings about the upcoming Year of the Snake and spread greetings through Weibo, while others use Weixin (a voice messaging app) to send voice greetings.
Methods Chinese people use to exchange New Year greetings continuously evolve with the advancement of information technology. However, traditional face-to-face communication remains the most direct way to wish goodwill for the upcoming Chinese New Year.
Liu Yuhang, born in the 1970s, moved to Beijing from a rural village in eastern China’s Shandong Province a decade ago. He still remembers as a child going door-to-door to greet elderly neighbors early on the morning of Chinese New Year’s Day.
At about 4 a.m., after eating dumplings with his family and lighting firecrackers to welcome the New Year, he began visiting clan elders along with his siblings. The young dropped to their knees to show respect to the elders, and received red envelopes full of money or candy in return. “Almost every day during the two weeks of Spring Festival, my parents and I visited our relatives to chat and eat together. Some even received several groups of visitors in a single day. Those sweet scenes of family reunions remain fresh in my memory.”
In recent years, more and more youngsters are leaving their hometowns and moving to cities. Although the custom of going door-to-door to greet elders on Chinese New Year’s Day is still practiced in Liu’s hometown, children don’t even kneel any more. Liu is unsure whether the New Year greeting tradition will survive the next generation.
Currently, the tradition of children and employees begging for lishi (literally “lucky money”) from their elders and employers on Chinese New Year is still practiced by residents of Hong Kong and Macao. “I wish you good fortune, now hand over the red packet!” accompanied by a sly grin is often heard on New Year greeting occasions. The givers hope that their generosity will bring good fortune in the coming year.