An American celebrating 2021 Chinese New Year in Beijing 22-02-21 10:37 Updated BJT
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By Tom McGregor

I have lived and worked in China's capital city since October 2010 and discovered early on that the most important holiday for Chinese citizens is the Spring Festival season. To understand its significance from an American's point of view, just imagine US citizens celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year and the Fourth of July all at the same time.

The Spring Festival in China goes on for seven days as a nationwide holiday and under normal circumstances many Chinese residing in urban regions make long journeys to visit distant relatives in rural areas or other cities in order to enjoy family reunions and to relax with loved ones. The excitement can be remarkable.

In the pre-Covid-19 era and after meeting my Chinese wife Zhou Yawei in April 2011, I would go and visit my wife's apple farm village in Fufeng County about 100 kilometers southwest of Xi'an, Shaanxi Province in NW China. Sometimes, my wife would take a car and it's a 15-hour drive, but we can observe scenic views of mountains, farmlands and grasslands on the way there.

Visiting my wife's hometown with our young son, Peter, were always filled with adventures as I had to adapt to more rugged conditions, loud talkers and very passionate people in Fufeng County, which can often be very entertaining.

Nonetheless, this year and the last were different. Due to stricter pandemic control and travel regulations, most Chinese families in Beijing were required to remain within the city's boundaries. Accordingly, I stayed with my immediate family to celebrate the Spring Festival in Beijing, both this year and the last one.

But this time, I was more mentally prepared for the circumstances. Last year, we had to cancel our trip to Fufeng County at the last moment but this time I was informed a couple of months in advance. Therefore, my wife and son were more ready to enjoy the Chinese New Year at our home. We tried our best to stay happy and optimistic.

To be honest, the holiday this time was better than expected. I'm a city person and have grown accustomed to modern-day amenities. I could catch up in my sleep, read more books, spend more quality time with my family in a stress-free environment. I got around to read the novel, "Gone with the Wind", by Margaret Mitchell, which was 1,055 pages long.

Fortunately, Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, fell on the holiday this year and my sister-in-law was visiting our home. She was baby-sitting my son while my wife could enjoy a romantic dinner and we stayed one night at a fancy hotel in the Central Business District.

During the holidays, my family visited the Indigo Mall in Beijing and the crowds were bustling while families were enjoying themselves and spending lavishly. Many Chinese were waiting in long lines to watch a film at movie theaters. I noticed book shops have become more popular. Hence, we should anticipate China reporting higher trade figures as Chinese consumers are purchasing more imported items.

My favorite part of this year's holiday celebrations was when our family welcomed a film crew to produce a video of our daily living during the Spring Festival. The host, a Chinese man, who goes by the English name - Collin, had a motorcycle with a side car. At first I was reluctant to ride it, but the side car made it more appealing. My son Peter loved the motorcycle too.

The Chinese government has been largely successful at containing the coronavirus and many people are hoping life can return to normal in the near future. Meanwhile, the Chinese economic rebound is for real and domestic retail spending appears to be booming. Hopefully, the Covid-19 vaccines can prove effective and the Chinese government can start lifting travel restrictions and social distancing measures in the next few months.

(The views don't necessarily represent those of the

Editor: zhangrui
22-02-21 10:37 BJT
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