Why the Younger Generation is Saying No to Chinese New Year

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Why the Younger Generation is Saying No to Chinese New Year
Screenshot from Papi Jiang's “Spring Festival Behaviour Standard” (过年行为规范)

Ever their cynical selves, young people have taken to celebrating Chinese New Year in a brand-new way, through viral social media posts that pour scorn on many of the festival’s traditional activities, reflective of today’s more modern society.

It is hardly news that millenials in China are continuously pestered by their families with questions such as, “When will you get promoted?” and “When are you getting married?” Relatives grasp every chance to enquire as to their private lives and then compare with themselves; children studying in school are asked whether they perform well, or how they rank in class, while office workers are interrogated over their salaries or whether they are seeing someone. If not, blind dates, arranged by their hospitable folks, are on the horizon. There is no escape, even for the married; “When are you going to have a second baby?”.

This year, the young have had enough, deciding to vent their frustrations on social media. Many such complaints as to the overwhelming pressure placed upon their shoulders have gone viral, thanks to a good dose of creativity.

Recently, Papi Jiang (papi 酱), a Chinese grass-roots celebrity on Weibo, released “Spring Festival Behaviour Standard” (过年行为规范). In the video, Papi suggests that the youngster majority demand “no more questions about our private life”, warning relatives to stop their embarrassing and meaningless small talk. It is a exhortation that followers are only too happy to eagerly forward to their parents as soon as possible.

Sarcasm has traditionally been a rarely employed form of wit in China, yet more and more young people are now beginning to “get it”, as illustrated by this year’s release of “Spring Festival Anxiety” (春节焦虑症) by the Shanghai Rainbow Indoor Chorus. The lyrics refer to standard parent/relative clichés, such as “What I do is for your own good”, while the chorus comprises speakers shouting out questions in different Chinese dialects from various cities. Online comments are in overwhelming agreement that much of today’s social value is reflected in the song.

Back on Weibo, in just one post, hashtags such as, “Guide for dealing with your relatives on CNY” or “How to survive on CNY” are accompanied by creative sketches suggesting how to answer these private questions. The post has received more than 4,400 likes and 1,300 comments.

This rising fight-back from youngsters on social media indicates this younger generation today is no longer controlled by traditional thinking, vocal about how disturbing and troublesome it is to visit their distant relatives. This Chinese New Year, the youth of today demand more private space for their life than ever before.

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Kristen Wang
A Nanjing local, Kristen studied Media and Public relations in Newcastle University (UK), has researched social media and online publishing and previously worked for different new media platforms. She is passionate about discovering new stories and helping expats involved in this city. 南京人Kristen毕业于纽卡斯尔大学,媒体与公共关系硕士学位。她的研究专注于社交媒体和网络发行,在不同的新媒体平台工作。她喜欢发现新鲜事,也希望帮助在南京的外国人融入这里的生活。