While visiting a Temple Fair in Beijing during Spring Festival one year, I spotted this street performer having a rest on a park bench. I love the colors.
Do you think your parents nag? Try being a young person going home for Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). The questions come fast and furious, and no matter what you are doing or achieving it seems never to be enough.
Singles have it particularly rough. “What? STILL no boyfriend (or girlfriend)??”
This is a big enough problem that some young women “rent” boyfriends to take home with them for the holidays so that their parents will think they are attached. Here’s how the China Daily reports on this phenomenon:
The price of renting a boyfriend to take home with you is surging to as high as 1,500 yuan ($219) a day as Spring Festival approaches, chinanews.com reported on Wednesday.
Some single women, who are pressured by their parents to marry, choose to rent a boyfriend for home to soften or dispel parents’ dissatisfaction with their singledom. Catering to the market, men are advertising their availability at higher prices on social networking platforms.
In a 1,000-people group chat on Tencent’s QQ, many advertisements give personal data about the “boyfriends” for rent, including height, weight and educational background, as well as services the “boyfriends’ can provide, such as “coping with questions concerning marriage from parents and relatives”.
The starting price to rent a “boyfriend” is 1,000 yuan. The manager of the chat group said that the daily price ranges from 1,000 yuan to 1,500 yuan during Spring Festival season, compared to a regular fee of 600 yuan to 1,000 yuan.
Besides the rental fee, the woman renting a boyfriend has to pay for his round-trip tickets if travel is involved and other costs, such as dining out and outings.
A choral group in Shanghai called the Shanghai Rainbow Chamber Singers has come up with a song about the travails of going home for the holidays. It’s called “What Did I Do is For Your Own Good.” The video of their performance of the song has gone viral in China.
(email readers, please go here to view)
Very funny and very impressive!!
Happy New Year!
Once I began studying Chinese, I fairly quickly became fluent at answering the following questions:
- Where are you from?
- Why are you here?
- Are you married?
- Why not?
I can’t say that I dreaded the questions (OK, maybe I dreaded #3 and #4 a little), but I certainly knew that they were going to be asked of me over and over and since practice makes perfect, I mastered the answers.
As people in China prepare to head home for the annual Chinese New Year celebrations, many are dreading the questions that their relatives will pepper them with.
The website What’s on Weibo recently ran a post highlighting some of the most dreaded questions for Chinese New Year. Here’s the list, but be sure to visit their site to see the explanation of each.
- How did you score on your final exams?
- How much money are you making?
- Did you find a boyfriend/girlfriend yet?
- Do you have a house and a car?
- When are you finally having kids?
In fact, question #3 is such a daunting one that there is a cottage industry of people renting themselves out as boyfriends or girlfriends for the holidays. The Globe and Mail has an in interesting story about this:
For many young women, showing up at home with a pleasant-looking, well-behaved boyfriend – even if your family never sees him again – is better than enduring two weeks of questions about why there’s no marriage or kids on the horizon. (China can be a deeply sexist society – women who are unmarried past the age of 30 are often referred to as “leftover women,” even in official media.)
“There are all kinds of reasons” that women contact a rental boyfriend, Mr. Zhou explains in an interview via instant messenger. “Some are divorced, some want help getting rid of another boyfriend, some don’t want to go to a wedding by themselves.”
But most, he adds, “just want someone to go with them to their hometown for three days, just to meet their parents and let them know they have a boyfriend.”
What questions do you dread?
Image credit: International Business Times
January 31 is Chinese New Year, the first day of the new year on the lunar calendar. Because it is the most important holiday for spending time with family, the month-long “Spring Festival” sees a mass migration of people from their places of work or study in one part of the country to their hometowns in other parts of the country.
The Chinese search engine, Baidu, has launched what they call a “heat map,” that visualizes, in real time, this mass migration that is taking place.
Here’s a description from Tech in Asia:
Baidu has launched a heat map of where Chinese travelers are heading to, coming from, and which routes are most popular during Chinese New Year, the country’s largest national holiday.
It’s a time when most Chinese either return home to their families or go on vacation, and it’s the largest annual mammalian migration on Earth. During the 40-day holiday period – which is called Spring Festival in Chinese – 3.6 billion passenger trips will be made across all modes of transportation (Note: most people only get eight days off).
The heat map updates every four to eight hours, showing the most popular destinations, points of origin, and travel routes. It includes a search function so you can see stats from specific cities and time frames. Here’s a few stats as of press time:
- The most popular destination is Beijing, followed by Chongqing. The hub cities in Hunan and Guangxi provinces tie for third.
- Beijing is also the most popular city to leave, followed by Shanghai and Guangzhou.
- The trip both to and from Chengdu and Beijing take up the top two most popular routes.
Last week, the New York Times blog Sinosphere had a post about this annual migration:
Demonstrating a deeply felt need among hundreds of millions of people working away from home to return for the most important festival of the year, a good portion of China’s 1.35 billion people are expected to make over 3.6 billion journeys – by plane, train, automobile, bus, motorized tricycle and probably a few donkeys.
The sentiment of “home at any cost” is summed up by a catchy saying: “Rich or Poor, Home for New Year” (有钱没钱, 回家过年) and the enormous human activity needed to make that happen is called the “Spring Transport” (春运)。
That movement of people strains the country’s transportation system, with tickets hard to buy, controversies over ticket sale systems, black-marketeering by “yellow oxen” (as the marketeers are called), trains packed like sardine tins and fights over boarding, lines and seats. But the end goal – celebrating with family – is considered worth it. This year, New Year’s Day is Jan. 31, beginning the Year of the Horse.
And Shanghaiist published some photos of what a train car looks like at the end of one of these journeys.
When people ask me about a good time to travel in China, I tell them NOT during Spring Festival. Now you know why!