After two long weeks, the Chinese New Year period is beginning to wind down. Here in mainland China, family members are trickling back into the big cities where they work. Shanghai and Beijing will beat again with streets full of people, and the annual quiet will come to an end.
Overseas, Chinese New Year is smaller — more of a community tradition, or a holiday towards which we hold only a surface level understanding. You might even be guilty of having confidently announced to a Mandarin-speaker, “gung hay fat choi” (that’s Cantonese).
In the spirit of cultural transmission, here’s Chinese New Year from the inside, right there with the families celebrating. What makes the holiday so important? What traditions are slipping away in a rapidly-changing major city?
We sat down with locals to hear how they celebrate China’s biggest holiday.
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