Phobia (and Controversy) of Chinese New Year’s Visits

Learn Chinese Words-拜年恐惧症(bàinián kǒngjùzhèng)
Learn Chinese Words-拜年恐惧症(bàinián kǒngjùzhèng)

“拜年(bàinián),” to pay a New Year’s call, is a traditional Chinese custom during the Spring Festival. “拜年(bàinián)” is a way for the Chinese to say goodbye to the current year and ring in the new one, and it provides Chinese people with opportunities to show their best wishes to relatives and friends. However, many young Chinese people are not willing to pay New Year’s visits. Can you guess why? Let’s have a closer look!
Those reluctant to pay visits may suffer from “拜年恐惧症(bàinián kǒngjùzhèng),” which is a phobia of New Year’s visits! Why are they so terrified? During their New Year’s visits, most of their elder relatives, including grandparents, uncles and aunts, enjoy making detailed inquiries into young people’s private lives, such as love life, job, income, etc. The reason why elder relatives like to ask such questions is, of course, because they care about the young and love them. However, some of their prying questions can certainly make young visitors feel awkward and helpless, which generates the fear of New Year’s visits known as “拜年恐惧症(bàinián kǒngjùzhèng).”
So what kind of questions do young people worry about most? The following are the top three dreaded topics of conversation!

No.1:Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend? When do you plan to get married?

These questions may be the Achilles heel of those “剩男(shèngnán) leftover men” and “剩女(shèngnǚ) leftover women” who are still single at a marriageable age. Usually, they enjoy their single lives but when they go back home during the Spring Festival, they are often asked by parents and relatives when they will find a boyfriend/girlfriend or get married. Late marriage is quite common nowadays, but the elder generation doesn’t understand this. So those who are considered “leftover men” and “leftover women” feel quite stressed and embarrassed when they are urged to tie the knot as soon as possible. This no doubt results in their unwillingness to pay New Year’s visits.


Gūmā: Lǐ Huá, chūlái gōngzuò zhème jiǔ le,   dǎsuan shénme shíhou jiéhūn ya?
姑妈:  李华,   出来   工作       这么    久 了,      打算       什么        时候     结婚      呀?
Aunt: Li Hua, you have been out in the workforce for such a long time. When do you plan to get married?

Lǐ Huá: Hái méiyǒu nǚpéngyou ne.
李华: 还     没有      女朋友        呢。
Li Hua: I haven’t got a girlfriend.

Gūmā: Hái méiyǒu nǚpéngyou? Tīngshuō nǐ hěnduō péngyou háizi dōu yǒu le! Nǐ yěyào gǎnkuài zhǎo
姑妈:  还   没有       女朋友?           听说        你   很多        朋友        孩子    都      有 了!你 也要     赶快       找
duìxiàng a.
对象     啊。
Aunt: No girlfriend? I’ve heard that many of your friends already have children. You need to find a girlfriend soon!

Lǐ Huá: Hǎode, wǒ zhīdào le.
李华:  好的,  我  知道    了。
Li Hua: Ok, I know.

No.2:How’s your job? How much do you earn each month?

Those who have just begun to work will encounter these kinds of questions. Many of the young people who have just graduated and entered the workforce don’t earn much. Unfortunately, the elder generation is inclined to equate income with competence, so young adults with a low income tend to get looked down upon. Elder generations also enjoy comparing the income of a young person with that of his or her peers. Certainly many young people want to avoid this topic of conversation.
Jiùjiu: Zhāng Qīng, bìyè le ba? Zhǎole shénme gōngzuò a?
舅舅:张清,            毕业了 吧?   找 了     什么       工作       啊?
Uncle: Zhang Qing, you have graduated, right? So what’s your job?

Zhāng Qīng: Zài yìjiā gōngsī dāng yèwùyuán.
张清:              在  一家 公司       当       业务员。
Zhang Qing: I work as a salesman in a company.

Jiùjiu: Yèwùyuán tǐng xīnkǔde ya,   nà nǐ měigèyuè gōngzī duōshǎo ne?
舅舅:业务员        挺    辛苦的   呀,  那 你  每个月       工资        多少       呢?
Uncle: Being a salesman is not an easy job. How much do you earn each month?

Zhāng Qīng: ēn …… wǒ cái gāng zuò bùjiǔ,   suóyǐ gōngzī bùgāo.
张清:              嗯……    我  才    刚       做    不久,   所以   工资    不高。
Zhang Qing: Well, I am just a beginner, so I don’t earn much.

No.3:How are your studies? How about your final exams?

These kinds of questions are obviously aimed at students. During the Spring Festival, it is customary for parents to pay visits to friends and family with their children in tow. When adults finish their courtesy greetings, their topics may turn to the kids’ final exams. Those who do well on their exams are highly praised while others, whose performances are poor, can’t help but feel quite anxious since not only do they feel embarrassed, but their parents may feel ashamed as well. What’s worse, some of these kids may be compared to their cousins. There is no doubt that many kids are afraid of the New Year’s visits.

Wàipó: Míngmíng, zhèige xuéqī xuéxí zěnmeyàng? Qīmò kǎoshì zěnmeyàng ne?
外婆:  明明,       这个    学期   学习   怎么样?      期末 考试     怎么样        呢?
Grandma: Mingming, how are your studies this semester? How did final exams go?

Xiǎomíng: ēn ……kǎodé bùhǎo.
小明:        嗯……    考得     不好。
Xiaoming: Sorry, I didn’t do a good job.

Wàipó: Zěnme yòu méi kǎo hǎo ne?
外婆:  怎么    又    没    考  好   呢?
Grandma: Why, did you fail again?

Xiǎomíng: ài,  nín jiù bié wèn le.
小明:     唉, 您   就 别  问   了。
Xiaoming: Oh, please don’t bring it up.

HSK 3 quiz

1. All of the following are groups of people who may suffer from “拜年恐惧症(bàinián kǒngjùzhèng)” except .
A. Students in elementary and secondary schools.
B. Single people of marriageable age.
C. Elderly people who have just retired.
2. Why do many people who have just begun to work suffer from “拜年恐惧症(bàinián kǒngjùzhèng)”?
A. They will be asked about their job and income.
B. They will be urged to get married soon.
C. They will be asked to quit their job to pursue further studies.
3. Why would “剩男(shèngnán)” and “剩女(shèngnǚ)” suffer from 拜年恐惧症(bàinián kǒngjùzhèng)”?
A. They will be asked about their job and income.
B. They will be urged to find a boyfriend or girlfriend soon.
C. They will be blamed for their poor performances on the final exam.


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