China’s week-long Lunar New Year holiday is in full force, but not everyone is happy to go home for the holidays. As familial pressures are at an all-time high during big holiday gatherings, many young people in China have developed a “fear of home.”
Citing a survey published in the China Youth Daily last week, Chinese community news magazine That’s Online reported that of 1,840 young people surveyed ahead of the holidays, slightly more than 77 percent said they were worried about their annual pilgrimage home, while 41 percent labeled themselves as part of a group that had a “fear of home.”
The holiday season can create a lot of pressure. And it’s not easy on the wallet, either. According to a recent survey conducted by Alipay, an online payment system similar to PayPal, young people found themselves spending anywhere from 4,400 yuan, roughly $726, to 21,000 yuan, or $3,465, on the holiday. Aside from that, the physical journey home is no easy feat, either. It is increasingly expensive and difficult to obtain travel tickets, and hectic rail stations and airports make traveling home a particularly taxing process.
However, many of the survey respondents said another big reason they dreaded going home was because of pressure from parents to marry and settle down, along with the pressure to give presents and cash gifts.
A few stories went viral during the holiday season that described the pressure to get married. One 38-year-old office worker from Nanjing, located in eastern province of Jiangsu, recently made headlines after she decided not to go home at all this year so she could avoid having to sit through awkward conversations with her family about why she was still unmarried, and instead she opted to pretend she was on a business trip. “I feel guilty,” she was quoted saying in local news. “But I don’t really have another choice.”
But the pressure isn’t just on women. The state-run Global Times reported that a 36-year-old man who goes by the surname Huang passed out aboard a train home for the holidays after discovering that his parents had arranged several blind dates for him as a not-so-subtle way of telling him to settle down. Train attendants tried to revive Huang after he fell unconscious just a few stops before his destination. Apparently, Huang had only agreed to go home for the holidays after his parents had agreed they would not meddle in his love life.