Valentine’s Day is meant to be spent with the person you love. But this year, young couples in China are faced with a rare dilemma of having to choose who they love more: their family or each other?
That’s because for the first time in decades Lunar New Year, which begins on February 14, falls on the same day as Valentine’s Day. What should have been a day of “double happiness,” is more a case of double booking since it puts couples in a position of having to choose between a traditional home-cooked meal with family and a candlelight dinner with their significant other.
Most netizens say blood is thicker than water. An online survey conducted by China News Net shows that 78.3% of netizens said Lunar New Year is more important, while only 3.8% voted for Valentine’s Day. Who says traditional family values in China are a thing of the past?
“I only get to see my family once a year so my girlfriend has been very supportive of me going home,” says Wen, a migrant worker in Hangzhou. “And besides, they say if two people are in love, everyday is a Valentine’s Day.”
Valentine’s Day has enjoyed increasing popularity among young Chinese couples, with retailers and restaurateurs keen to cash-in on the craze. As we reported in WiC last year (see issue 3), shopping malls in Beijing were packed with cupid-struck couples looking to buy chocolates and teddy bears; in Shanghai there was a roaring trade in ‘kissing fish’; while restaurants and hotels lured lovebirds with Valentine’s Day specials. A whopping 2,689 Beijing couples even tied the knot.
(But not this year. The tiger sign is reckoned to be inauspicious for marriages, says Shanghai Daily. Apparently, if you get married in the Year of the Tiger, your husband will die an early death.)
The clash of celebrations is turning into a problem not only for lovers but also retailers and hotels.
Florists say their orders have been cut by half this year, according to the Southern Metropolis Daily. Eateries that usually cash in on Valentine’s Day are also crying into their tablecloths.
“Last year all 15 tables were booked weeks before Valentine’s Day, but so far no one has called to make reservations this year,” says a manager of Greenery Cafe, which serves Western food in Guangzhou.
Meanwhile, others are trying to encourage couples to celebrate Valentine’s Day early instead of forgoing the occasion. They’ve not always been successful.
“We have began promoting our Valentine’s Day presents weeks ahead of February 14,” says Mai, a manager of a luxury watch firm. “But I am not very optimistic.”
Nevertheless, filmmakers are taking advantage of the “double happiness”. Hot Summer Days, a romantic comedy, has been strategically released around the peak movie-going Lunar New Year to appeal to moviegoers for both occasions.
The movie follows the romances of five young couples during a summer of record-breaking temperatures. It will star an A-list cast including Vivian Hsu (pictured), Barbie Hsu, Daniel Wu, and Angelababy. Even Maggie Cheung, one of Hong Kong’s leading movie personalities, makes a brief cameo appearance.
Hot Summer Days is Fox International Production’s first foray into China’s movie industry. China’s Huayi Brothers and satellite TV operator Star Television (STAR) are also the film’s co-producers. Fox and Star are both units of media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
“We are very excited to be making our first Chinese film,” says Fox International Productions president Sanford Panitch. “China is one of the most exciting markets in the world today and we hope this is just the beginning for Fox to make movies in the region.”
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