Looking around in crowds on the streets of Beijing these days, one finds an unusually large number of people toting shopping bags and wearing broad smiles, distracting the bustling business-like steps of others.
In spite of the excessively cold weather that has prevailed since January 1, happiness and relaxation have been brewing in the air. Spring Festival, China’s most important traditional holiday, is right round the corner.
Everybody is gearing up for the occasion, preparing for the long-distance reunions that always accompany the celebration of the Lunar New Year. Many people are traveling at this time of year, but those who have decided to remain in Beijing rather than cram themselves into a train, a bus or a plane might have made a good decision.
Besides the eye-catching “sale” signs pasted on all store windows on Wangfujing Street, people will find themselves presented with a host of other reasons to stay in the city for Spring Festival, said Yang Xinjing, a commercial official in Beijing.
Starting next week, a total of 11 temple fairs will open in succession and last until the end of the seven-day Spring Festival holiday.
But the fairs are not the only attraction tempting revelers this year. “Our eight leading flower markets will jointly stage a city-wide flower fair this Spring Festival for the first time,” Yang revealed. “The flower show will offer an alternative to the tradition of the temple fairs.”
According to Yang, the flower fairs will be like the temple fairs, involving many cultural and sports activities, but the festivities will focus on flowers.
In a departure from last year, Yang said he has decided to concentrate, not on the goods that will be on offer during Spring Festival, but on the quality of the festival experience.
Yang added he believes Spring Festival is different from other major Chinese festivals in that it is primarily about relaxation and comfort.
Department stores and large grocery markets are also joining in the spirit of the festival by offering to deliver commodities to households for free.
Since local people prefer to eat at home during the holiday, while fewer people would like to spend a long time cooking, the commercial authority has for the first time arranged for some famous restaurants, like the Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant, to equip supermarkets with half-prepared dishes.
(China Daily 01/19/2001)