Today, at midnight, the Year of the Dragon will start. People visit their families, eat, drink, light fireworks, go to temple fairs and enjoy performances. Celebrating Chinese New Year is the biggest event of the year. Several hundred million Chinese travelled to their hometowns in the past few weeks.
Not everybody, because Chinese New Year is also business. Shopping malls compete with shiny decorations, event organizers prepare the stages and booths for the fairs and many workers are hired to turn parks and temples into temporary amusement parks and open air markets where everything from Chinese zodiac costumes to homemade handicrafts will be sold.
We talk with a few workers in DiTan Park, the location for one of the biggest and busiest fairs in Beijing. Many of them are working for event organizers and travel all over China the whole year. Others are hired on a temporary basis. Coincidentally they were all from the Henan province. Although they disliked the fact that they cannot spend the New Year with their families, they are quite happy with the arrangements. For work during Chinese New Year the pay is 300% of the normal salary. While they are working before the New Year to setup installations for the fair, and after the fair to disassemble the installations, they have time in between to visit the “big city” and when all is over, they will spend time with their families at home. At New Year’s eve, their boss will provide for drinks, food and some fireworks to celebrate.