The celebration of the Chinese New Year (春节 chūnjié) is to honour the beginning of spring when new lives and opportunities arise. It is also known as the “Spring Festival”. This year it falls on Friday 12th February, around which time thousands of miles of journeys will be made by people traveling across the country to return home.
With COVID-19 still affecting many areas of China, 春运 chūnyùn, the world’s largest human migration is being advised against by government officials. In previous years, China alone saw around 3 billion trips made during the festival, however this year, the number of trips expected to be made according to the Ministry of Transport is only 1.15 billion. This is 61% less than in 2019 and 22% less than 2020.
With all the hard rules and restrictions, it is safe to say that this year’s celebration is going to be different, even though the country is not under a strict lockdown. Similar to Jersey’s travel guidance, in China upon arriving at the travel destination, travellers have to complete an organised 14 days quarantine and receive two negative test results. In some areas considered high risk (including my hometown 辽宁 Liáoníng), travellers have to complete another 7 day “home observation” and receive tests every 3 days! Family gatherings are sadly limited to 10 people maximum. For a country which historically worships ancestry and family reunion, adhering to the restrictions is no doubt a big sacrifice. Government authorities suggest using social media platforms, for instance, Zoom or WeChat to interact with loved ones from a distance. As an incentive, some parts of the country are offering free mobile data, and some employers even provide subsidies or health check-up discounts to discourage their employees from traveling home.
I fondly remember this time last year, at ThinkChinese’s new year party (held in Soy) I called over 70 participants to join me for a prayer. COVID – 19 at that time was only regional and I was expecting my parents to visit me in Jersey shortly after. One year later, they still haven’t made it to the Island, and with very limited travel options and restrictions, I doubt that I will make a trip home with my 16 month-old any time too soon. To help combat the feeling of nostalgia and bring some authentic Chinese new year traditions to Islanders, this year ThinkChinese is organising a special dumplings making session on Sunday 14th. Whether you are a culture lover or just wanted to try a new cuisine, we welcome you to join us for a little craft, fun and laughter.
Please contact email@example.com for more information on the activity and Chinese courses.
ThinkChinese wishes you a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.
xīn nián kuàilè, shēntǐ jiànkāng
by Briony Sun and Eleyshir James