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February 10, 2014

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Clash of dates tugging at the heartstrings

A ROMANTIC candlelit dinner with someone special ... or a meal with the folks at a traditional family get-together?

This is the dilemma facing lovebirds on Friday because this year Valentine’s Day clashes with the Lantern Festival.

The Lantern Festival - Yuanxiao in Chinese — is celebrated on the 15th night of the first lunar month, marking the end of Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations.

Yuanxiao is part of customs for the Spring Festival and families usually gather to eat tangyuan — glutinous rice balls, admire ornate lanterns and guess the answers to riddles. The festival also sees the first full moon of the Lunar New Year and people who have not wed traditionally have dinner with their parents.

But as the Lantern Festival falls on February 14 this year, heartstrings are being tugged in different directions.

Riven Ji, a 29-year-old logistics worker, has booked a candlelit dinner with his girlfriend at an expensive restaurant, but his sweetheart is not happy about missing the Lantern Festival at home.

“She is in two minds over who she should have dinner with, and suggested that I cancel the Valentine’s meal,” Ji said.

He said his girlfriend never missed the Yuanxiao dinner with her parents and feared they would be angry if she did this year.

“But it will be our first Valentine’s Day together, so I hope we can enjoy dinner together,” Ji said.

However, Ji admitted that his girlfriend has still not made up her mind. 

Filial duty

There’s no such a dilemma for 26-year-old Ten Fuqin, who said she would stay at home for the Lantern Festival and celebrate Valentine’s Day the following day on Saturday instead.

“It’s about performing filial  duty by following traditional ideas, and I’ve reached an agreement on that with my boyfriend,” she said.

“I don’t think it’s good to skip the festival as I am a very traditional person,” she said.

Others have found a solution that combines Valentine’s Day and Lantern Festival celebrations.

Ether Qin, a 30-year-old IT worker, has booked a table at a restaurant for him and his girlfriend and both sets of parents and grandparents that night.

“The Lantern Festival is for family reunions, and we should follow traditional Chinese culture and join seniors for the festival,” Qin said.

“We’re busy at work, and spend our leisure time dating, so don’t have much time to spend time with our parents.

“And in any case, every day can be Valentine’s Day if it’s filled with love,”  he added.

But Qin is still getting Valentine’s Day gifts for his girlfriend and may suggest they take a romantic stroll after dinner among the glowing lanterns.

Despite the clash of dates, high-end hotels report strong bookings for Valentine’s Day dinners.

Pudong Shangri-La said all of its Valentine’s Day dinners, priced at 1,488 yuan (US$240) per person, plus a 15 percent service charge, are booked, and extra seats may be added.

The Waldorf Astoria on the Bund said only three out of 50 tables were left for its Valentine’s Day dinner, which costs 1,388 yuan per person, plus a 15 percent service charge.



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