HANGZHOU — Gifting red envelopes stuffed with cash to relatives and friends, visiting temple fairs and making traditional dishes are customs during the Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as Spring Festival.
These old customs have a new face in the digital age, according to a report issued this week by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
Robotic devices have replaced food and new clothes to become popular gifts during the festival.
The sales of steam mops, dish-washers, robot window cleaners and cooking robots on Alibaba’s online platform Tmall increased by 320 percent, 188 percent, 169 percent and 145 percent year on year, respectively, during the seven-day festival holiday that ended Feb 21, the report said.
The dining tables of the Chinese have also changed. In addition to the traditional dishes of fish, rice cakes and dumplings, families are using online market places to buy exotic delicacies from all over the world.
The sales of imported fresh food on Tmall surged by around 300 percent during the festival year on year. Chilean king crabs, Boston lobsters, and fish from New Zealand are the most popular, according to the report.
The online availability of temple fair tickets revived this traditional custom. In Beijing, a total of 300,000 temple fairs tickets were sold online between Feb 8-10.
Digital red envelopes also took the place of traditional paper ones. More than 250 million users of Alipay across the world collected five “fu” -- literally meaning happiness — characters in the holiday.
Users from over 1,700 cities outside China participated in the Chinese “fu”-scanning game, which allows users grabbing a digital red packet after collecting five “fu” characters.
Duan Baolin, vice chairman with China Folklore Society, said that the customs, new or old, all represent the culture of Spring Festival. “Carrying on the old and innovating the new are both necessary to integrate the culture of the Spring Festival into our life,” said Duan.
The report is based on data of Alibaba’s 10-plus online platforms including Tmall, Taobao and Alipay.