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March 1, 2010

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A tradition more than young can afford

YOUNG people say the Spring Festival has cost them dear because of the large number of presents they had to give to family members and the children of friends, bosses and colleagues.

According to a recent Internet survey, 20 percent of 400 respondents said they spent more than 20,000 yuan (US$2,860) on presents or "red envelopes," which was far beyond their means.

Only about 20 percent said their spending on presents was less than 5,000 yuan.

Most of the respondents gave presents or "red envelopes" containing cash to their parents and other close family members. Some also gave presents to colleagues or friends getting married during the seven-day holiday.

"The presents cost me and my husband more than 5,000 yuan," said a telecommunications company worker surnamed Mao. "Another big expense was that we had to invite people to dinner."

Most respondents said they couldn't give presents of less value for fear of losing face.

"It would be awkward if you are the only one who didn't give a present or give a little in the family," said a public relations company worker surnamed Jin.

About 50 percent of respondents said they didn't want to give presents to bosses and colleagues, but felt they had to do so in a bid to enhance their career.

Sociologists said young people were shouldering more social relation burdens than before, and that was hard to change as the giving of presents was a tradition.

Gu Xiaoming, a history professor at Fudan University, said that from ancient times people regarded giving presents an important courtesy at festivals.

"Society freshmen, new couples especially, would feel bigger pressure because they didn't have such experience before," Gu said. "And for the young people befpre, they didn't have the Internet which allowed them to complain. I bet we will hear such complaints for a long time."


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