Rural China turns to frugal weddings, funerals








Rural China

turns to frugal weddings, funerals

By Wang Jian, Shen Yang and Cheng Di



A nationwide austerity drive means minimalism is prevailing over lavishness as the latest fad during China’s special occasions.

Like many of his peers, Du Yunlong, 22, in east China’s Jiangxi Province chose to tie the knot during Spring Festival.

“My big day was a very simple one. The wedding dinner was held at the activity center for the elderly, and all cars used were borrowed from friends,” he said.

It used to be the norm for villagers to rent fleets of luxury cars and arrange expensive feasts for weddings, said Du, who claims to have saved at least 20,000 yuan (3,263 U. S. dollars).

Two years ago, Du’s wedding would have been laughed at. The local economy has developed fast, and villagers use weddings as a vehicle to show off their wealth.

According to Du’s uncle Du Xiaohua, weddings used to last at least two days with four dinners, usually in expensive hotels with at least a dozen luxury cars.

“Poor families would follow suit, fearing that they would be looked down upon, regardless of any debt considerations” he said.

Funeral are also big occasions for Chinese people to flash their cash. According to village official Xie Xiaoying, eight “gods” usually escort coffins to the cemetery at a cost of around 4,000 yuan for each actor playing “god”.

The campaign against extravagance began late in 2012, and the village set up a committee in August 2013 to help simplify weddings and funerals. The committee allows the activity center to be used for free. Ceremonies should not last more than one day, and funeral “gods” may now only charge 200 yuan each.

“The money saved on the wedding can give us a better start in married life,” Du said.

Shiquan Village is not alone, Dapu Village in Fujian Province has formally limited spending on weddings and funerals and asked villagers to donate the money saved on ceremonies to the local charities. According to Jianshan Township, Chongqing, locals saved 400,000 yuan a month on weddings and funerals in 2014.

“Rural people are especially afraid of losing face, so village governments have to change their mentality before frugality can become a reality,” Xie Xiaoying said.









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