CNY trumps Christmas
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.