Happy Chinese New Year, my dear readers.
This is the most important festival of the year for Chinese people. Everyone buys expensive gifts, drinks high-alcoholic wine, eats oily snacks and chews chicken meat (seriously). The more abundant of resources you appear to have, the more prosperous you look like to others. Everyone consumes hard at this time of the year to look good, to show off, and most importantly, to “keep their face”.
I once went to a city in southern China and saw that almost 80% of the shops on a street are shops that sell cigarettes and wine(煙酒). Chinese people told me this also happens to majority of a lot of cities in China. Those shops that sell cigarettes and wine are way more than shops that sell home products or personal care products. I was wondering how could people consume all those cigarettes and wine if they buy so much? Would they just drink them all, smoke them all, or put the wine bottles as decorations at home? But compared with the quantities of cigarettes and wine they buy, it seems that they have to drink wine as water, and smoke cigarettes as chewing gum in order to consume them all.
No wonder China has about 350 million smokers and produces 42% of the all cigarettes in the world (Peter Leo, 2006) and there is an estimated 2 million Chinese people dying each year of tobacco-related illnesses by 2020 (Time Magazine, 2011).
The root of the problem, again, is about the “face”. Drinking good wine, having good cigarettes, eating expensive Italian-made chocolates are all what prestigious people should do in the Chinese world. In particular, those who don’t do it would have to do it during Chinese New Year, because everyone should appear prosperous and having a lot money left and not caring how much money spent on the food and drinks.
Sometimes, it seems to me that this is a holiday of consumption rather than a holiday of celebrating the coming of New Year. Those delicately-packed gift boxes and wine bottles will be forgotten; those countless chickens killed for sacrificial use will be stuffed into human being’s stomachs in the end (and causes diarrhea) ; those strong Chinese wine given away as gifts will turn Chinese people’s face into red in 5 minutes.
It’s just insane, you know.