Couples visit parents apart

Distributed family network: Vast distances between home towns and the cost of hosting events has seen once crucial traditions give way to more individualistic but practical habits, the value of which is still up for debate.

BEIJING: Web celebrity ‘Ms Papi’ (real name Jiang Yilei) has been among the most searched hashtags on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo recently, after remarks she made during an online program about marriage triggered heated discussion among netizens.

As a guest on an online talk show last month, she said when she and her husband married five years ago they did not have a wedding banquet.

That’s unusual because most Chinese view wedding banquets as very crucial events – sometimes even more crucial than the registration ceremony itself – to show loved ones the marriage is completed .

“Ms Papi” became an online celebrity after Jiang posted videos on WeChat where her character imitated various types of people to illustrate aspects of society, especially interpersonal relationships.

But it was her revelations about her own marriage that sent her celebrity soaring.

On the talk show, she said her parents never met her husband’s parents, although the couple have been together for 10 years.

More surprisingly, she said she has never celebrated Spring Festival with her in-laws.

She and her husband spend the festival with their own parents separately.

“I believe I am important to my parents and he to his,” the 33-year-old said.

“The parents of both sides are happy enough to see their own child and don’t care whether the in-law comes or not.”

In a comment posted on Weibo, a netizen identified as “Conditional boyfriend” said: “This is the form of marriage I have been dreaming of, and she has already made it!”

Another netizen, identified as “Ushuaia”, said Jiang “provided a new possibility” for family ties.

“I think it’s cool for the parents to keep their distance and stay on their own track, even after the couple is married,” she said.

Liu Yuanju, a researcher with the Shanghai Institute of Finance and Law, said it was understandable that a couple’s parents do not meet, as urbanisation has pulled young people from all over China to its big cities, while parents stayed home.

“Young couples marry amid such a background might come from different parts of China and their homes might be very distant from each other,” he said.

Yang Yuan, who lives in Dezhou, Shandong province, married her husband in 1998.

But Yang’s parents have never met her husband’s, and she has never celebrated Spring Festival with her in-laws.

“My husband’s parents live in Shaanxi province and it took a whole day on the train to get there 20 years ago,” the 43-year-old said.

Lu Min, a resident of Guangzhou, Guangdong province, has spent three of the past four Spring Festivals travelling overseas with her husband.

“We didn’t have a wedding banquet or wedding photos,” she said.

Her parents have not met her husband’s, and she spent the other Spring Festival since their marriage at her parents’ home, without her husband.

Some people strongly disapprove of such modern marriages, with online critics branding them “unbelievable” and “selfish”.

Fang Mo, chief consultant on marital issues at, a well-known dating website in China, recommended young couples go to the home of one side’s parents together to celebrate important festivals, rather than returning to their own homes separately.

But Ling Zi, a consultant on marital issues in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, said such behaviour was likely to be accepted by more people in the future, as members of younger generations got married.

“A majority of those in younger generations are an only child.

“They emphasise personal space and initiative in making their own life decisions,” she said. — China Daily/Asia News Network

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