CNY trumps Christ­mas

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWO CENTS - By Leila Hashemi

It’s be­gin­ning to look a lot like…Chi­nese New Year (CNY)! To­day, as I walked out of my com­plex, I could feel the fes­tive­ness in the air. I saw cou­plets and paper cut­tings on doors, lanterns hung on street lights and smiles on peo­ple’s faces.

My WeChat has been filled with ex­cit­ing travel plans from friends and even a mom and her daugh­ter craft­ing their own hong­baos with silly an­i­mal faces. And then, it dawned on me. CNY is bet­ter than Christ­mas!

While they seem sim­i­lar, Chi­nese New Year is so much less com­mer­cial­ized and much more fam­ily-fo­cused than Christ­mas. In­stead of one hec­tic day, peo­ple in China have one or two weeks to see their fam­i­lies. The cus­toms are an­cient tra­di­tions that pro­mote pos­i­tiv­ity for the fu­ture.

In the West, Christ­mas day is for open­ing presents and rush­ing around, and most peo­ple don’t even sit down to Christ­mas Eve din­ner with their fam­ily. How­ever, New Year’s Eve din­ner in China is the high­light of the Chi­nese fes­tiv­i­ties and the most im­por­tant meal of the year.

I love Christ­mas be­cause ev­ery­one is in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the same day of cel­e­bra­tion, which is also why I fell in love with CNY. In the days lead­ing up to the break, peo­ple are chat­ter­ing about where they are go­ing and pre­par­ing for jour­neys far or near. How­ever, since the hol­i­day lasts so much longer, there is not as much stress as try­ing to see ev­ery­one in your fam­ily and ex­tended fam­ily in 24 short hours on Christ­mas day.

This year my mom will be com­ing to China from the US for CNY, and that makes me feel like I didn’t even miss out on not be­ing home for Christ­mas. Ho­tels are throw­ing lav­ish din­ners, tem­ple fairs will be fea­tur­ing tra­di­tional treats and dances and the city will be peace­ful and some­what eerie when ev­ery­one de­parts for home.

With 3,000 years of his­tory, Chi­nese New Year has evolved, but with so many years un­der its belt, it did not turn into the con­sumerist mon­ster that is Christ­mas in the West. I never cared about how many presents were un­der the tree. What I cared about most was the abil­ity to slow down and spend time with my fam­ily and friends. Those tra­di­tions have al­most been lost in most peo­ple’s Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tions. How­ever, they still ring true dur­ing the fes­tiv­i­ties of CNY.

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