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Couples bicker over where to spend Spring Festival

Zheng Xixi and her husband have been quarreling over the same issue every Spring Festival since they got married in Shanghai four years ago - at whose parents' home they will celebrate the occasion.

The young couple, both 29, settled down in the metropolis after they graduated from local universities. Zheng is from Chongqing and her husband is from Yantai, Shandong province.

"I am the only child in my family and I need to spend the most important festival at my parents' home," Zheng said on Friday.

But her husband has the same argument and neither of them is planning to budge. The quarrel usually lasts for days before an "acceptable solution" is found, Zheng said.

This year, the couple finally reached a deal: Inviting their parents to Shanghai.

"The quarrel is so frustrating and it sometimes hurts our relationship," Zheng said.

"But we cannot find a one-off solution."

In China, millions of young couples, especially those born since the 1980s, are widely considered to face the same headache when Spring Festival approaches. According to Chinese tradition, the wife should always spend Spring Festival with her parents-in-law. But things have changed over the years.

Most of the younger generation in their 20s are the only child of their family, since the family planning policy took effect in 1979. In big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, many young people work away from home and Spring Festival is the only opportunity for them to return to their hometown.

It has been reported that in China, the number of families with one child hit more than 100 million.

In recent years, the issue of spending Spring Festival in whose parents' home has become a hot topic in the Chinese media. Some suggestions from the media include:

First, going back to both homes. The couple can visit two places during the one-week holiday, time- and money-permitting. But it can be very tiring and expensive.

Second, go home separately. Spend the holiday with your parents alone and recall the sweet childhood memory. But staying away from your partner during the festival may affect the relationship.

Third, go back home in turns. It sounds fair to visit one hometown this year and the other next year. But both sides should agree on the plan before marriage.

Last, invite the parents to your home.

If you have a big house, bring the parents together. But it is not easy to deal with four parents under one roof.

Renowned literary critic Zhang Yiwu has even suggested that people think out of the box to find other ways to spend Spring Festival rather than going back to their hometowns.

"Going back home is no longer a compulsory way to spend the traditional holiday," the Peking University professor said.

"If you really cannot make it home, you can use information technology to communicate with your family, for instance."

He also said young couples should understand, respect each other and communicate more with their parents.

"Parents should also be more tolerant and open-minded toward the issue," Zhang said.

From: China Daily 2009-1-24

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