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CHINA STORY | The Spring Festival in Shanghai


26 January 2017 | By Zhao Chenfei (赵辰菲) | Supervised by Li Mei (李梅) | Copyedited by Gu Yiqing

  • Yuyuan Garden @ Shanghai

    The Spring Festival in Shanghai reveals the essence of the city — a vigorous east Asian center with great cultural diversity and capacities.

S

hanghai is my hometown. Called as “the oriental pearl”, this modern mega-city seems to have a great centrifugal force, investing people with vigor, excitement and dreams. Drawn by her calling of opportunities and receiving her reward of accomplishments, millions of visitors from home and abroad come and settle here. Like a high-speed train, Shanghai is rushing forward all year round. If there is a time when the train pulls in and stops for a while, it must be the Spring Festival.

Not unlike other places in China, the celebration of the Spring Festival in Shanghai still observes the traditions. Lion dance and firecrackers can be seen in places like the Yu Garden. Staying with the family is a tradition that has never been changed for hundreds of years; a family reunion dinner must be prepared at the New Year’s Eve. During the dinner, the elder give the children red packets with lucky money while the younger generations would give their best wishes to the elder

But unlike other places in China simmering with boisterous joy, the Spring Festival in Shanghai has its unique feature — a tranquil and auspicious air pervading every street and lane. The metro where people squashed like sardines in a tin is spacious and desolate in the seven-day holiday. Those impatient and stern faces in rush hours disappear. Passengers become more composed and relaxed. After a stressful year in the competitive city, people yearn for an escape. Both emigrants and immigrants pack up and go back to their hometowns or scenic spots with whole-year gains. It is the only time that the flow of people in Shanghai is reversed, the ever centrifugal tendency becoming a centripetal one.

Problems caused by overpopulation are temporarily solved. However, a few days later, this extraordinary peacefulness and serenity is not that comfortable. Inconvenience brought by the emigrant workers’ leave makes the local citizens helpless and anxious. The food price in the markets doubles because the sellers have gone for their hometowns. Wasted trips happen all the time because some shops are closed. But the real trouble is that the city has lost its color and vitality. People have been used to the fast life pulsing of this city. And without the sea of people, the noises and the bustles, the city is no longer the one they love and hate. They pour in places like the Yu Garden to feel the festival atmosphere where crowds are jammed, jostling one another on the way. In casual talks, “after the Spring Festival we will do it” becomes a frequent promise. In the seven-day break, the whole city gasps for breath and gets ready to start out again.

The Spring Festival in Shanghai reveals the essence of the city — a vigorous east Asian center with great cultural diversity and capacities. It never stops its pace except for a break in the Spring Festival. Blended with Chinese traditions and modern conceptions, Shanghai has lit up the path to hope and progress for the new comers as well as the settlers.

 

This is one of the featured articles by SES Writing Workshop. The author, Zhao Chenfei is an undergraduate student of the School of English Studies, Shanghai International Studies University (SISU). The supervisor, Li Mei, is a lecturer of English at SISU. Her research areas are English-Chinese contrastive linguistics, discourse analysis and language teaching. 

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Press Contact

SISU News Center, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Tel : +86 (21) 3537 2378

Email : news@shisu.edu.cn

Address :550 Dalian Road (W), Shanghai 200083, China

Further Reading