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China’s reunion dinner: tradition thrives, innovation emerges

By Kou Jie, Shi Wei (People's Daily Online)    11:26, January 30, 2019

Held on the eve of Spring Festival, the reunion dinner, also known as “Nian Ye Fan” (年夜饭), is considered the most important feast of the entire year in China. With a history of over four thousand years, the event boasts traditional values such as family ties and harmony, though more modern options are becoming available to enrich this major gathering.

According to the Records of Jinchu, China’s encyclopedia of folk customs during the 6th and 7th centuries, the reunion dinner is usually held in or near the home of the most senior member of the family, while all family members work together to prepare a feast.

However, this situation is beginning to change, as more and more Chinese prefer to eat out for New Year, with many even using a mobile app to order cooking services online.

“Our family has decided to eat out for the Spring Festival so that we don't have to put so much effort into cooking, and can spend more quality time together,” said Wang Jiajun, a 67-year-old Beijing-based retiree, who added that eating out has become an accessible and affordable option for the reunion dinner.

Echoing Wang, Su Zeyue, a 27-year-old engineer living in Yangzhou, noted that his family has ordered a chef to come and cook their dinner this year. All he has to do is use a mobile app to send the chef a menu specifying his needs.

“With the advancement of technology, as well as the improvement of life quality, more modern elements have been introduced to the reunion dinner, making it a combination of tradition and innovation,” said Su.


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(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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