Chinese New Year embraces electronic fireworks and moisturising money masks
The lunar new year is China's most significant holiday, the equivalent of Christmas in the West. Extended families gather together to share a meal, exchange red envelopes of cash and set off fireworks, but these traditions are being reinterpreted in myriad ways as China changes socially, economically and politically.
Over the holiday, the world's biggest annual migration, Flamingo Shanghai collected observations of how Chinese New Year is changing, both here and abroad, as well as instances where traditions remain very much in place.
- ”Tangyuan (汤圆) are balls of glutinous rice traditionally eaten during Chinese New Year because their round shape symbolise togetherness. Even though I made these myself on a day I wasn’t visiting family, it felt nice to uphold this tradition.”
- “During this Chinese New Year, fireworks were banned in Shanghai to help improve the air quality. Usually the celebration is paired with a days long orchestra of fireworks to scare away evil spirits, but this year the city went silent. My neighbors bought these electronic firecrackers from online marketplace Taobao to simulate the sound. I wonder if my kids will grow up without knowing what real fire crackers sound like.”
- “I’m not quite sure what this guy is supposed to be but he’s surely not preforming a traditional lion dance. I saw this in the streets of Taipei where he scooted behind a truck blasting techno and people playing the lion dance drums. Talk about modern fusion.”
- “I spent New Year’s in Shuyang at my grandparents’ house. My grandpa told me that the most significant choice he made in life was to stay with the Communist Party, and that his wife stayed with him. They have been married for 75 years and counting.”
- “On the first day of Chinese New Year we celebrated my aunt's birthday in Shenyang by taking her to watch her first ever 3D movie.”
- “My grandpa bought this new calendar for 2016, and proudly showed it to me when I was at his place. It's interesting to see the contrast between the picture of Xi Jinping and a calligraphy piece on the left by 星云大师, a famous spiritual advisor living in Taiwan.”
- “These statues of Communist Party leaders were worshipped in a temple right next to Buddhist statues.”
- “While the cities are empty, villages in Guangxi, Heng County, are full of people. There are new malls, salons and cafés where everyone is trying hard to dress up and impress their neighbours.”
- “This is an image of Ginza district in Tokyo where tourists from China are buying rice cookers and other electronics to bring back to their families. The quality in Japan is perceived as better, so stocking up on multiple similar items is a common sight.”
- “I went to Thanyapura sports hotel in Phuket where they’re going through a period of high vacancy. They struck a deal with Chinese tour groups to fill up the empty rooms. As you can imagine these tour groups didn’t mix very well with Olympic swimmers seeking a quiet, healthy getaway.”
- “This year Hong Kong was quieter than previous years due to the city's unpopularity with shoppers from Mainland China. With the Hong Kong dollar rising against the yuan and other holiday destinations becoming more accessible, Chinese tourists preferred to spend their holidays elsewhere.”
- “Chinese New Year is a great holiday to moisturise your face with a money mask!”
- Article by Jidi Guo