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Heart of the holidays

By Raymond Zhou | China Daily | Updated: 2016-02-15 08:33

Heart of the holidays

[Photo by Wang Xiaoying/China Daily]

With more recognition than Halloween and less than Christmas, Valentine's Day as a somewhat recently imported festival faces a precarious situation in China, where it's caught between shifting forces of tradition and fashion.

Valentine's Day has a natural foe in China. And it is not the Chinese equivalent, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh month on the lunar calendar, usually around half a year away from Feb 14. It is Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese New Year, that will keep the Feast of Saint Valentine at bay.

Because of the differences between the lunar calendar and the Gregorian calendar, the Chinese New Year shifts each year but generally falls in early February. The secret is not just the specific date, but the length of the celebration.

While the legal holiday lasts seven days, the festive mood lasts for at least twice as long. As custom has it, the 15th day of the first lunar month marks the official end of festivities. And add to it the run-up to New Year's Eve and it could be 20 days in total. No wonder expatriates who first arrive in China are flabbergasted that the country can grind to a halt and for so long.

However, many Chinese still complain about inadequate time off.

Compared with some Western countries, they maintain, we seem to have far less time off.

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