‘Still Not Married?’ A Graphic Guide to Surviving Chinese New Year

Maya Hong is a Beijing transplant from a small town outside of Harbin, the icy city not far from China’s border with Siberia. Though proud of her glacial origins and skilled at combating subzero temperatures, over the years Hong, 30, has had to add to her repertoire to stay comfortable on her visits home. Lately, in addition to the lancing Arctic winds she faces a yearly inquisition from relatives and neighbors about why she is returning home for the Chinese New Year without a husband or news of an imminent engagement.



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Because her family has lived in her father’s work unit housing for more than 30 years, all of her neighbors have known her since birth, and everything is everyone’s business. “In order to get to my front door, I need to pass the homes of five other neighbors on foot,” she explains. “If I do that during the day, at least one person from each building is bound to pop out and start asking me personal questions. I just can’t face that.” Instead, she makes sure to always take a train from Beijing that arrives in Harbin late at night. Though the icy roads from the train station to her home are considerably more dangerous to navigate in the dark, she pleads with her older sister to pick her up from the last train. Once she’s safe inside her house, she does everything possible not to leave it for the duration of the holiday.

In modern China, where the societal force to wed remains so strong that marrying off a child is the personal mission of just about every parent with offspring under 30 (after 30, it becomes a crusade, and after marriage, parents switch gears into procreation pressure mode), thousands of singles above the age of 25 face a similar holiday harangue when returning home to celebrate the new year. But word has it that a cheeky superheroine has caught wind of their plight and swept in to the rescue.