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China readies for Spring Festival

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China is preparing for the most important holiday, the Spring Festival, or the Lunar New Year, which falls on Saturday this year (2017 is the Year of the Rooster), reported Global Times.

As millions of Chinese get together with their families over the next two days to celebrate the Spring Festival, or the Lunar New Year, the whole country seems fully prepared for China's most important holiday, which falls on Saturday this year.

According to statistics from China Railway Corporation (CRC), a total of 9.49 million passengers took trains on Wednesday. On Tuesday the number was 9.19 million, showing an increase of 8.7 percent compared with 2016.

The CRC has arranged more trains and added 246,000 seats for passengers in an effort to deal with the passenger flow peak.
Several passengers reached by the Global Times on Wednesday said that crowds in two railway stations in Beijing were not as large as expected and the quick security checks at entrances helped save time and smooth flow.

The Ministry of Transport said in a release on January 4 that the total number of journeys during the Spring Festival season would be expected to reach 2.97 billion, with train passengers accounting for 12 percent and 84 percent traveling by road.
Overseas trips have become another choice for more and more Chinese during the seven-day holidays. China Southern Airlines arranged 111 overseas flights from Shenzhen on Tuesday and the company's number of passengers for overseas flights is expected to be 18,000.

While many Chinese prefer to spend the holidays with families, some have to stand fast and remain at their posts.
A People's Liberation Army (PLA) officer, who asked for anonymity, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the Spring Festival is important for combat preparedness and they should be ready for any drill. He said that he has not gone home for the Spring Festival for 10 years.

Fireworks free
For those whose hometowns were previously besieged by heavy smog over winter, their memories for the Spring Festival routine may be altered a little, since some cities tightened regulations on fireworks over pollution concerns.
According to a message sent by the Beijing municipal government on Wednesday, residents can set fireworks the whole day on Friday and Saturday and from 7 am to midnight from Sunday to February 11 within the Fifth Ring Road.

"Please set fewer or no fireworks in an effort to reduce air pollution. And if there is a red or orange alert on air pollution, fireworks will be banned. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation," read the message.
A poll released by a research center in Beijing showed that more than 15.7 percent of the respondents would set fireworks, a decrease of 7.3 percent from last year. More than 80 percent of residents would not set fireworks with 43.3 percent of respondents giving "air pollution" as the main reason.

Several cities and regions in China, including Shanghai and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, have tightened regulations on the use of fireworks, requiring buyers to register their personal information and reducing the number of retailers during the upcoming Spring Festival.
Shanghai authorities only allowed seven outlets to sell pyrotechnics, beginning on Monday, over safety concerns, the Shanghai-based Labor Daily reported on Monday.

Must-see TV
Another routine for many Chinese is to watch China Central Television's Spring Festival Gala. Traditionally broadcast on the eve of Chinese New Year, the gala is a necessity for most families. Not all think the show is as attractive and interesting as it used to be, as with many netizens annually mocking the program and suggesting it should be canceled.

However, a webpage with the hashtag #The Spring Festival Gala# on Sina Weibo has been viewed 10.36 billion times with 46.62 million comments as of the press time.
The National Copyright Administration released an announcement on Tuesday, saying that the institution has listed the Spring Festival Gala for copyright protection, calling it an important and influential cultural product. Individuals or online performs are banned from streaming the program without authority.

Red envelopes or hongbao are also an essential New Year element in China. But these days, hongbao have entered the digital era and people are full of enthusiasm about giving digital cash through Alipay and Wechat.
Alipay has kept pushing its previous year's plan encouraging users to collect five different styles of fu - good fortune.

Users could acquire the fu cards by scanning anything with the Chinese character fu on it, no matter if it's on a poster attached to your door or a physical red envelope.
A total of 200 million yuan will be distributed in various sums among users who have collected all five styles of fu cards.

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