Autumn Festival 2020

Roll Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas all together and you get the Chinese Autumn Festival.

This year to add to the mix,  Chinese National Day also falls on 1 October.

Traditionally it is a time for families to come together but this year in China people are encouraged to travel around the country to help the economy while in neighbouring Korea, which also claims the festival, people are asked to stay at home and celebrate in small groups. 

Last year in China 782 million trips related to the festival were made by people coming together but this year a mere 600 million trips are expected. Often three or even four generations would come together for a real family meal but slowly that is changing as families become smaller and people are scattered because of work over a country where being three or four thousand miles apart is not uncommon. The better off were also beginning to use the extended festive week for travel. The old customs are losing their significance.  

This year, because of the virus, journeys out of the country are not encouraged and Hong Kong, for some strange reason, is also not in favour. Instead, free travel coupons in hand, the travel-minded are heading for China’s Hawaii in the south (Hainan), to the Alps country of Yunnan, the wilds of Xinjiang or the tourist trap of Xian.

Many who had tried to get home from business trips or studies abroad find themselves stuck in compulsory isolation in hotels far from their families.

Culturally, spiritually, economically and numerically any quietening of Halloween that the virus achieves in Ireland this year will pale in comparison.

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