Wed, September 22, 2010
Lifestyle > Society > Mid-Autumn Festival 2010

Traditional family reunion festival, now time for travel

2010-09-22 08:50:54 GMT2010-09-22 16:50:54 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

JINAN, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- For centuries, the Mid-Autumn festival has been a time of family reunions for the Chinese, but it is now becoming a new time for getaways from homes.

Cai Ruiming works at a construction site in Baoding City, north China's Hebei Province, while his family lives in his hometown in east China's Zhejiang Province.

Rather than returning home to spend time with his parents and children, Cai decided to do a little sightseeing with his wife. She will join him in Hebei and then they plan to visit Beijing.

Mid-Autumn festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese lunar calendar, which falls on Sept. 22 this year. It is when the moon is supposedly at its fullest and brightest and families come together and eat the traditional delicacy, the mooncake.

As a construction worker, Cai spent much of his time during the past ten years away from home, wherever his construction projects take him.

"The transport system is much better than before so I can easily get home during time in-between projects," said Cai. "Now it takes only 12 hours to get home from Baoding, only half the time that was needed before."

Cui Yuetian who joined the workforce two years ago in Jinan, capital of east China's Shandong Province, preferred to travel, as well. "I plan to visit some nearby tourist attractions", he said.

The three-day festival vacation is one of the key national holidays in China. Since many people work far away from home, it seems unwise to spend two days on the road just to stay home for one day. So many people chose to visit nearby places like Cui.

Travel agencies also see a growing number of people who join their one-day tours during the vacation.

"This holiday is a busy time for us. We increased our one-day tours from once per week to a daily basis," said an employee with the Jinan-based Shandong Jiahua travel agency.

While spending time with or without your family may be a personal choice, many primary school teachers said they were "worried" that many children no longer know their own traditions and culture.

"I only know that people eat mooncake during the Mid-Autumn festival," said Zhang Fan, a pupil from Yindu Primary School in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province.

"Without experiencing the festival rituals themselves, many children don't know what the festival is really about, although I told them about it during class," said a teacher surnamed Zhang of the school.

As for reasons for a less "traditional" festival, Hu Guangwei of the Sichuan Social Sciences Research Institute said, "In ancient China it was difficult for people to feed themselves, so having a nice dinner with their family was very much a celebration in itself. Now people can afford it everyday, so its charm wears off."

Also, Chinese traditional festivals are mainly family-oriented and private, which may not be very attractive to fun-loving young people.

The celebrations of the festival should go beyond the usual family dinners and the same old mooncake, and may include new forms of entertainment, such as carnivals, said Hu.

"However, no matter how people choose to celebrate the festival, the essence is still the same, wishing for safety and happiness for one's family," said Sociology Professor Wang Zhongwu of Shandong University.

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