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Message-mad Chinese say 'Hpy Nu Yr'
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08:50, February 15, 2008

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As millions fight the crowds to make their way back from family reunions after the Spring Festival break, a quicker and less harrowing way to exchange New Year greetings is growing in popularity - the short message service, or SMS.

With cell phones now a major mode of communication for the country's 539 million mobile-phone subscribers, sending festival greetings via SMS is emerging as the preferred choice.

The number of messages sent during this year's weeklong Spring Festival holiday hit a record 17 billion, compared with 15 billion in the same period in 2005, figures from mobile-phone operator China Mobile showed.

A recent online survey by IT company Tegic Communications also showed that close to 80 percent of respondents favored sending New Year greetings via SMS.

Jia Pinrong, deputy director of the Public Relations and Public Opinion Institute of the Communication University of China, said sending such greetings has become a fixture of the Chinese New Year.

Spring Festival, with a history of at least 4,000 years, is the country's most important festival for families to spend time together.

Initially popular only among tech-savvy youngsters, sending SMS greetings is now becoming an important, fast, low-cost and convenient tool of communication for people of all ages, Jia said.

Technology is also leaving its mark on Spring Festival customs in other ways.

More and more youngsters are spending their Chinese New Year holiday online - where they can "light" electronic fireworks, "eat" electronic dumplings and enjoy virtual Spring Festival couplets, with just a click of the mouse.

Professor Chen Jing from Nanjing University said it is natural for society to develop new Spring Festival customs adapted to modern life.

"As long as the new customs represent the core values of the Spring Festival, they will add to its vitality," he said.

Source:China Daily

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