2 min read

New Year Phobia

The Wood Dragon Year has started in China and everybody hopefully had a good time with family, friends, food and a lot of travelling. Some have used the relaxed atmosphere for surprising musings.

Among the many articles providing different degrees of nonsense about the fortune telling qualities of the “Dragon Year” (which without the element, wood, added, are disconnected from any Chinese tradition anyway), an article in the China Daily Global Edition sticks out.

An associate professor of psychology at Southwest University of Science and Technology and a PhD candidate at Tongji University discuss “New Year phobia”:

“In particular, for the younger generation, the once eagerly anticipated festival has evolved into a time fraught with pressure, giving rise to a phenomenon known as ‘New Year phobia’. It has become a complex intersection of emotions for youths — nostalgia for childhood memories and warmth of family gatherings, and a reflection of the past year's momentous occasions. As they transition into adulthood, the festival brings new challenges for youths, from becoming a giver instead of a receiver of red envelopes to facing the pressure of marriage and career building from family members. Media reports show the mental stress due to societal expectations, economic pressure of gift-giving, and ‘Spring Festival phobia’ have cast a shadow over the once joyful occasion for youths.”

“Discussions on subjects such as marriage and childbirth expose the widening gap between the younger generation and their parents, making youths feel that their freedom is being encroached upon.”

To address the ‘New Year phobia’ phenomenon, three key initiatives are proposed:

- Letting the youth should take the lead in shaping a new Spring Festival culture by becoming the architects of their own celebrations.

- Second, accepting reality — in terms of youths' career and income — and providing support, families can help young people better cope with future challenges.

- Third, “contemporary society should be more open and inclusive, both preserving traditional customs and celebrations and using innovative ways to celebrate Spring Festival. While thousands of years of traditions should be preserved, it's not necessary to rigidly adhere to every custom. While upholding cultural confidence, it's crucial to welcome fresh ideas from the younger generation, and respect their new approach.”

This text is like a “hong bao” for all China watchers. By replacing parents with government and Spring Festival with society, lots of interesting ideas appear for the new year.

The number of Chinese travelling outbound during the New Year Golden Week has been eagerly anticipated. Official Chinese and careless copy-and-paste Western media report “soaring numbers” and “records broken”. Domestic, inbound and outbound results were all mixed together and only by looking carefully at the official number of the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism could be found: 3.6 million outbound tourist departures during the holiday period. Compared to the 2019 official result of 6.3 million trips this is still less than 60% of the pre-pandemic level. Certainly more than the 44% of 2023, however not yet close to 100% recovery. More numbers and discussions of the results of Chinese New Year travel in 2024 can be found in the Facts&Views section. 

The Deep Dive chapter this week looks at the rather underwhelming results of eight years of SDGs in the Asia-Pacific region.

This week we are starting with a new form for the Topic of the Week. We are providing our readers with a video preview of the new CTT China Tourism Training sessions. Each week a peek into one of the more than 60 sessions will be given, starting unsurprisingly with No. 1 this week. The training programs are covering all kinds of important topics, each within 20 minutes. More information can be found here:



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Best wishes for the New Year to all readers!