Rural residents shop at outdoor markets to prepare for Spring Festival
By Guan Yang

Shopping plays a key part in Lunar New Year preparations in rural China. But unlike urban dwellers, who shop online or in grocery stores, many rural residents prefer the hustle and bustle of outdoor markets, like the Hongqi fair in the southern part of Liaoning Province, northeastern China.

The Hongqi fair, which has a history of more than 300 years since the Qing Dynasty, is known as the cultural centerpiece of northeastern China's Lunar New Year celebrations. Everything you see here is called "Nianhuo," literally "New Year Goods," meaning all the goodies, decorations, and other traditional items that fill homes with auspicious symbolism. There's an impressive amount of stocking up to do here to prepare for constant feasting and entertainment. Most food and snacks are typically bought beforehand.

"It's just the beginning of my lunar new year's shopping...For me, I prefer to buy as required during the holidays", Xia Qiuhua, one shopper at the rural fair, said.

Zhang Ning, the vendor at the fair, told CGTN that the rural fair offers a great opportunity to showcase the intangible cultural heritage of Yingkou city; it makes the shopping experience more fun.

Starting one week before the Lunar New Year, this fair is open every day. As you might know, the most auspicious color in Chinese culture is red; you can find it everywhere, from the decorative lanterns in the market to the colors of packaging and labeling of goods. And in terms of anti-epidemic controls, fair organizers have rolled out preventative measures, like distances between stalls and checking shoppers' temperatures and travel histories. Volunteers are also present to help ease the flow of guests. Residents here say that protecting each other is the best gift one can give this holiday season.

Xu Zhifeng, the organizer of the rural fair, said, "We've put more cultural elements into this year's fair, especially about the traditional farming traditions from the northeast. As a result, shoppers can discover many interesting stories about the local agricultural products."

The Spring Festival has its roots in farming. Shopping at rural fairs is not just about the quality and price of the products but the true meaning of Chinese New Year.

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