In this MaoMi Chinese podcast episode, we talk about Chinese New Year (which has just passed) and a possible recent trend of spouses separating to celebrate with their respective families – an insight into some possible arguments happening around the country.
Listen along and use the transcript below to improve your Chinese skills.
Hello everyone! Welcome back to MaoMi Chinese! Wishing you all a happy New Year and good fortune in the Year of the Dragon!
Now it's the Spring Festival, the most important festival for Chinese people. During the Spring Festival, no matter where people are, they try to return to their hometowns and celebrate with their families. However, have you ever thought about which hometown a married couple should go to for the New Year? Should they go to the husband's hometown or the wife's hometown? Today, let's discuss this together!
In traditional Chinese culture, it is believed that after marriage, a couple should spend the New Year in the husband's hometown. There is an old saying in Chinese: "嫁鸡随鸡，嫁狗随狗" (marry a chicken and follow the chicken, marry a dog and follow the dog). This means that a woman should follow her husband wherever he goes. Therefore, after marriage, the wife should go to the husband's hometown to celebrate the New Year. This is because, in traditional Chinese values, the husband is considered more important, and once a woman becomes a wife, she should go wherever her husband goes. Additionally, China is a large country, and traveling from the husband's hometown to the wife's hometown could take a long time, so they usually choose one place to celebrate the New Year. In the past, many couples would argue during the Spring Festival because the wife felt it was unfair and wanted to celebrate the New Year in her hometown, but the husband believed that, according to tradition, the wife should accompany him to his hometown for the New Year.
In recent years, I've noticed a change. This year during the Spring Festival, many couples shared on Chinese social media that they celebrated separately, with each spouse going back to their respective families. Some people commented, "This is so strange! The New Year should be about reunion. Celebrating separately is not at all about being together!" Reunion, being together with family, is the most important aspect of the Chinese New Year. However, others said, "Why does a woman always have to accompany a man back to his hometown for the New Year? Men have their own parents, and women have their own parents too!"
Why are couples starting to celebrate the New Year separately now? I think there are two reasons. Firstly, many young couples nowadays are only children due to the previous one-child policy. If the wife goes to the husband's hometown for the New Year, her parents will be lonely. Similarly, if the husband goes to the wife's hometown, his parents will also be lonely. Therefore, only by celebrating separately can both sets of parents avoid loneliness. Secondly, young people are becoming more independent, and their thoughts are evolving away from traditional Chinese values. Young couples don't necessarily see men as more important than women or believe that women must follow their husbands to their hometowns for the New Year. They find the old saying "嫁鸡随鸡，嫁狗随狗" inappropriate because everyone is an individual.
I believe that as long as the couple is comfortable with their choice, celebrating the New Year separately or going to either the husband's or wife's hometown is fine. After all, the Spring Festival should be a joyful and happy time. What do you think?