Chinese New Year in Hainan ④: The Spring Festival of “Winter Birds”

By Wu Ruolin / HICN / Updated: 15:09,14-February-2021

Editor’s Note:

The ox plows the lush green fields, and the bird sings on branches covered in bright red flowers. As the earth begins to awaken from her winter nap, we welcome in 2021, the Chinese New Year of the Ox. Spring Festival is China’s most important, most festive, and most traditional holiday, rich in symbolic activities like pasting up Spring Festival couplets beside your door, hanging red, glowing lanterns, reuniting with friends and family, making wishes for the new year, attending temple fairs…

Spring Festival has been celebrated in China for 4,000 years. In Hainan, China's only tropical island province, Spring Festival customs and traditions can differ from village to village, and town to town. Seeing off the Kitchen God, sweeping the house clean, making New Year’s rice cakes, “surrounding the stove” with dish after dish of tasty traditional foods, lighting up the whole house, and staying up all night to welcome in the New Year are all local Hainan Spring Festival customs.

As Chinese traditions become more well-known across the globe, more and more people have joined the celebrations all around the world. As the Year of the Ox arrives, the sweet aroma of the Chinese New Year is once again drifting over the seas.

To share the Chinese New Year celebrations with the world as we welcome Spring Festival here in Hainan, the Hainan International Media Center and the Hainan International Communication Network are putting together a special series on Spring Festival in Hainan.

We’ve sent three international reporters, Lara, Tommy, and Polina, to Li mountain villages, into ancient lanes, and to all kinds of different places to discover how the people of Hainan celebrate the New Year, experience for themselves the unique Spring Festival atmosphere on the island, and get a feel for Hainan’s special holiday customs.

(Photo by Chen Yuanneng)

The warm climate and clean air in Hainan attract many people to the island for the winter, and these people are called “winter birds”. These winter birds can spend the winter here in warm Hainan, as well as celebrate Spring Festival. Watch the video to see what they do during the holiday in Hainan!

Mrs. Xia is an elderly winter bird from Changchun. She is staying in Clearwater Bay, Lingshui, and often participates in local community activities. The residents enjoy singing together, and also dance in cheongsam due to the warm weather. Mrs. Xia told us that their team has been together for six years, with members from all over the country. The team has grown from a dozen people at the beginning to more than a hundred people now. Everyone gathers on Hainan Island in the winter and feels very happy.

(Photo by Chen Yuanneng)

When winter birds come to Hainan, they also bring their hometown customs to Hainan. Mrs. Xia invited Tommy to eat at her home to try some Changchun cuisine. At her home, Tommy learned how to make dumplings and also ate quite a few of them. Mrs. Xia said that the warm climate in Hainan allows her to wear beautiful clothes, and the fresh air makes her feel relaxed. In addition, the Covid-19 situation in Hainan is very good, which gives people a feeling of safety and relief. 

(Photo by Meng Meishun)

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