A woman's place

Updated: 2013-02-04 16:56

By Sun Ye (China Daily)

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A woman's place

Despite the challenges and difficulties, the majority of Chinese still choose to go home and celebrate Lunar New Year with their families. Liu Junxi / Xinhua

A woman's place

On board trains before the Lunar New Year are those who head home and those who travel around. Ding Yong / for China Daily

A woman's place is in the home of her husband's family during Lunar New Year, according to tradition. Sun Ye reports that though much has changed, this still seems to be the case.

Now that she's married, 29-year-old public relations manager Wu Ruoqiao has three homes. She lives in Beijing, while her hometown is Tianjin and her husband's is Taiyuan.

For the upcoming Spring Festival they are obliged to visit both places, even though the traveling will eat into their seven-day holiday.

They plan to go to Tianjin on Feb 3, return to Beijing, then set off for Taiyuan before Lunar New Year's Eve. They will stay for five days, and take off once again for Tianjin to spend a couple of days. Much of Valentine's Day will be whiled away on the train.

"It's totally worth the back-and-forth," says Wu and her husband agrees. "Spring Festival is family time. We need to be surrounded by relatives and friends. It's the holiday spirit."

A woman's place

Chinese Lunar New Year decorations

Wu is an only child, but she will be with her extended family on Lunar New Year's Eve and on the fifth day of the New Year.

"In this way, parents from both sides are happy and we're happy. That's my idea of a vacation," Wu says.

Chinese tradition holds that a married woman should stay with her husband's family until at least the second day of the New Year.

But with China's 20 million one-child families all demanding quality time and 80 million "empty nest" parents all looking forward to festive family reunions this is not always logistically possible.

Yang Si, who is from Hunan province, last year married her husband, who is from Kunming in Yunnan province. She has rowed with him over whose home they should go to for Spring Festival.

"My husband says we should honor tradition and stay with his family," Yang told Yunnan Info News, "But I feel unfilial not being with my parents on such an important night."

A woman's place

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The standoff was finally resolved when the couple decided to chip in and fly Yang's parents to Kunming to celebrate the night together.

Feng Weiwen, a 29 year-old purchasing agent from Guangzhou, will also spend New Year's Eve with her husband's family, but will not see her own parents.

"What can I say? I'm an only child and don't feel good about leaving them behind," she says, adding that it's her duty to stay with her husband's family in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

She plans to call her parents on the big night and rush back to see them four days later. "My husband sees his parents just once a year, so I understand his feelings."

She says she can see her parents at other times. "After all, marriage is all about compromises."

Contact the writer at sunye@chinadaily.com.cn.