For many years, people living and working in large and medium-sized cities returned to their hometowns, usually in small cities and rural areas, for family reunion during the holiday of the Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival. Normally, family visitors constitute the majority of the huge traffic flow through the Spring Festival travel rush, which is known as the largest annual human migration on earth.
This picture has been changing in recent years, particularly prior to the 2019 Spring Festival, which fell on February 5. Instead of trying to grab a train or flight ticket home, a growing number of young migrants choose to spend the Spring Festival in the cities where they work and reside and have their parents visit them instead.
This trend, popularly known as the reverse Spring Festival travel rush, has relieved the huge pressure on the transport system. In contrast to the serious shortage of train and flight tickets to small cities and rural areas, there are plenty of tickets for reverse trips. This new way of celebrating the Spring Festival can also alleviate pressure on young people.
Xia Zhenbin (Guangzhou Daily): Packing for a long journey and buying souvenirs are normally the responsibility of young migrants before the Spring Festival. However, this year, more parents are doing the packing and traveling. It's now common to see young people waiting at railway stations or airports to pick up their parents.
This is not a new phenomenon, although in the past, it was not as popular as it is today. Why is this becoming a trend? Every family has its own specific reasons for this reversal. Some young people have just started their careers and their parents don't want them to endure the hardship of the journey. Some young couples have just had babies, so it's inconvenient to take a long journey during the Spring Festival travel rush. Furthermore, it's easier to get the older couples to cities for family reunion.
During the Spring Festival travel rush, train tickets to small cities and rural areas are hard to get while flight tickets are expensive. Reverse trip costs much less. Thanks to urbanization and the reform of the household registration system, more and more people from rural areas are able to live a comfortable life in large and medium-sized cities. They are financially capable of getting their parents to their urban residences for Spring Festival celebrations, giving parents a chance to share in the children's achievements.
Fundamentally, a change of people's understanding of the Spring Festival has caused the shift.
Today, there are more ways of celebrating the festival than before. In the past, people tended to have a family reunion dinner on the Spring Festival Eve at home, but today, more people are eating out. A growing number of people are also traveling during the festival, instead of staying at home or visiting relatives and friends.
People pay more attention to their feelings and are unwilling to be restrained by the strings of old traditions. Many new ways of celebrating the Spring Festival are emerging, reflecting people's aspirations for a better life and China's economic and social progress. Happiness is not confined to a fixed form, and the reverse trip is a new option.
Large and medium-sized cities like Beijing and Shanghai, where a large number of migrants settle, must provide smooth transport and plenty of celebratory activities during the Spring Festival, so that visiting parents will have an enjoyable and worthwhile trip.
Wang Kailei (News.gxnews.com.cn): Whatever the obstacles are, the Chinese will never give up a family reunion during the Spring Festival. Compared to small cities and rural areas, there are sufficient capacity to transport passengers to large cities like Beijing and Shanghai, which are major sources of migrants returning home during the Spring Festival travel rush.
The surge of the reverse traffic flow reflects a change in the Chinese people's concept of the Spring Festival family reunion. When the older generation come to the city, they have an opportunity to witness new customs and cultures associated with the Spring Festival.
Nowadays, traveling between large and medium-sized cities and rural areas takes much less time and the journey is also more convenient, due largely to the rapid development of the high-speed railway network and the opening of new air routes. In the past, young people might have worried that the rough trip was more than their parents could bear, but today they are more willing to let their parents travel to cities, thanks to improved transport conditions.
Han Haoyue (Southern Metropolis Daily): This year, we are beginning to see a growing number of parents going to large and medium-sized cities to join their children for Spring Festival celebrations. This is an encouraging change because it is a positive solution to many problems associated with the Spring Festival travel rush. For rail and air transport departments, the reverse traffic flow is a welcome pressure relief.
Every year before the Spring Festival, it is always a difficult struggle for many people working in large and medium-sized cities to secure a train or flight ticket home. If they choose to drive home, it's exhausting. Some young people decide not to go home, although they know the Spring Festival is the most important time for the Chinese and they miss their parents.
Maybe at first, the reverse Spring Festival travel is limited to a small group, but when more people start to realize its merits, it will quickly become a fad and a new way of celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year.
Massive migration to cities and the narrowing gap between rural and urban areas have already begun to change the traditional ways of celebrating the Spring Festival. In the past, the custom was that the whole family gathered together to make dumplings on the Lunar New Year's Eve, but now, a lot of families go to luxury restaurants for a family reunion dinner. Today, there is also a surge in outbound travel during the Spring Festival. As part of this wave of change, the reverse travel is already an unstoppable trend. Family members who live separately for most parts of a year will get used to spending the Spring Festival together in cities that are far away from their hometowns.
This is progress and a result of economic and social development. It shows that people are beginning to pay more attention to their own feelings and pursuing an improved and more convenient life.
Zhang Lianzhou (Opinion.gxnews.com.cn): In Chinese culture, no matter how busy a person is during the year, the Spring Festival is a time when children must go back home to visit their parents. But for people who work far away from their hometowns, especially those in large and medium-sized cities, they find it hard to get a train or flight ticket during the Spring Festival travel rush. Usually, a failure to nab a ticket means that they will not be able to attend the annual family reunion.
This year, many parents chose to go to the cities where their children work and reside for the Spring Festival, mostly because they know how hard the younger generation struggle in cities on a daily basis and that getting tickets is difficult. As long as the whole family is together, spending the festival in a city that is different and far from their hometowns is acceptable.
The tradition of family reunion during the Spring Festival should be cherished and continued forever. But given the reality and social shifts in modern society, reverse travel should be encouraged.
Copyedited by Rebeca Toledo
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