Thoughts on Chinese New Year (2022)

There’s been lots of talk about Chinese New Year (CNY) here in the office all week, and a rush to get everything done for the big holiday. It’s the time of year when foreigners’ work visas are furiously getting renewed (hopefully!), and when out-of-towners leave Shanghai for a long visit home.

COVID has wreaked havoc on people’s lives when it comes to traveling cross country, but this year, after two years of COVID-affected Chinese New Years, there seems to be a much stronger push to get home among the Chinese people I know. I can certainly understand that… it’s been way too long since I’ve visited my own family back in the US.

But speaking of changes in attitudes to CNY, I’ve also taken a look at some of my older posts, such as my infamous 10 Reasons I Hate Chinese New Year from 2007. I barely recognize the sentiments expressed in that blog post, namely because:

  1. Shanghai has gotten much stricter about fireworks within the city center, so it’s no longer so noisy and dangerous.
  2. I’ve made peace with bajiu culture, and while I rarely drink it, I do drink it on occasions like Chinese New Year, mostly just to make my father-in-law happy.
  3. The Chunwan (春晚) craptacular is no longer such a big deal… I think a lot of people relegate it to “background noise” on CNY Eve, and/or just wait until the next day for highlights on social media.
  4. The mass migration called 春运 doesn’t seem so impossible anymore… it’s more of a nuisance than a near-insurmountable obstacle. Perhaps COVID has put things in perspective?

Yeah, Shanghai still feels a bit melancholy at this time of year. But those of us with kids can’t really travel. And so my family, at least, is heading to the countryside outside Shanghai to hole up in a little cottage on a lake to soak up some nature, enjoy each other’s company, and even set off a few fireworks.

Sunset on the Lake

It’s almost like the whole thing has come full circle, finally, and I’m going to enjoy Chinese New Year for real this year.

(Not the baijiu, though. Never the baijiu.)


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Lee Hofweber Says: January 29, 2022 at 3:18 am

    Sounds fun John, I know what you mean based on my experiences in China. Glad you’re able to get some rest in the countryside. Have you ever tried camping in a tent in China? Are y’all fishing where you are staying?

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