Now that the firecrackers have been fired and the leftover dumplings dumped, many Chinese netizens are starting to feel the dreaded New Year’s hangover.
All the gifts and red pockets, restaurant bills, train, plane and bus tickets, and those “hated fireworks” have taken their collective toll. In particular, the popular, industrial strength fireworks that light up the skies around Chinese New Year, one of which famously burned down the China Central Television headquarters in 2009, can cost well north of 200 yuan per pop – and one is never enough – in a country where the average salary is less than 2,000 yuan per month. It’s not surprising that many Chinese netizens’ pocketbooks are feeling rather light right around now.
@杜淑娥-anyi complained, “Don’t want to think about it. Spent 9,000 yuan. My god. In pain.” @赵荫amanda ranted, “Supermarket, red pockets, buying clothes, eating and drinking, plus a new television worth 5,600 yuan; these ten days I spent at least 20,000 yuan [over US$3,000]! Will have to tighten the belt in February!”
One unfortunate reveler, @高塍傳記, enumerated the toll: “Mother-in-law: 10,000; mother: 10,000; meals and drinks: 3,000; buying clothes, red pockets and miscellaneous: 7,000. Altogether I spent 30,000. Yikes, that’s half a year’s salary!” This is why Chinese New Year may no longer look better than Christmas in the rear view mirror.
@耿超的地盘 wrote, “European prices and African salaries. Spent all the money and didn’t get to keep any of the merchandise. Wondering if it’s better not to have New Years at all.”
Some netizens were more philosophical, @沈小样儿 wrote, “Although my wallet went from fat to flat, I did have a pretty good time” and @壮乡三月三 agreed “Should give if you have the ability; after all it’s all for family and friends. Isn’t that a good thing?”
One netizen, @曾经的誓言YoonA, gave an astoundingly detailed breakdown of the costs involved (keep in mind that the average monthly salary is less than two thousand yuan), which Tea Leaf Nation has summarized here:
• New clothes for the children: 100 yuan;
• New clothes for the adults: 500 yuan;
• Fireworks: 20-500 yuan;
• Red pockets: Children are so lucky…many can pull in thousands of yuan; some can even earn tens of thousands! Cost: High;
• New Years’ Meals: This is the most important act of Chinese New Years. Families start purchasing New Years goods, chicken, duck, fish, crabs…sweets, fruits, candy. Cost: 100 to up to 2,000 yuan;
• New Years’ Gifts: Visiting the relatives during New Years is an old custom. Taking bags of gifts to visit family and friends and catch up. Cost: 200 yuan;
• Tea Leaf Nation’s take: Spending a wonderful New Year with loved ones: Priceless. (This post was not sponsored by MasterCard.)
Not all netizens are complaining, particularly the younger ones or those with children who are on the receiving end of all those bulging red pockets. “Added a kid this year; lots and lots of red pockets!” wrote @Sowomen. “During Chinese New Years I make all the money!” wrote another lucky girl, @H-小姐.
@L皇后与梦想, perhaps in a tweet endorsed by Toys R Us, wrote, “I don’t want to grow up! Because after I grow up I would be too embarrassed to take any red pockets. This year’s haul was pretty good. Aside from red pockets, I also won some money playing Mahjong. Can take a trip to somewhere I fancy!”
Meanwhile, some of those less fortunate are resorting to drastic measures. @我的20l2 wrote, “This year I’m not leaving home [so as to avoid giving red pockets]. Save money!!!”