Chinese elderly get into Valentine's spirit

Updated: 2012-02-14 15:02


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BEIJING - On a freezing afternoon, 80-year-old Zhao Qian bought a box of black chocolate, a Valentine's gift prepared for his wife, who has been restricted to bed, paralysed, after cerebral hemorrhage 10 years ago.

Zhao, a resident at Jinsuijiayuan Community in the north China city of Hohhot, heard about Valentine's Day on TV, and decided to do something for his wife.

"I wanna seize every chance to treat her better and make her happy," he said.

Valentine's Day which fell on Tuesday, is not only celebrated by youngsters, but also by many old folk in China nowadays.

Li Cai'er and his wife Liang Jianming, who have been married for over 40 years, had a photographer take photos of them in their wedding dress for Valentine's Day.

"We couldn't afford any wedding shots when we got married, and now, we also want to have our own wedding photos and celebrate a romantic Valentine's like youngsters do," said the 65-year-old from the northern province of Shanxi.

Li also prepared to spend more than 2,000 yuan ($318) on a ring and presented it to his wife.

According to data from China's largest online trade platform, the number of people over 50 who bought flowers and chocolate more than doubled from the same period of last year.

The platform started a "love letter from Paris" group purchase activity, welcoming users to write love letters, which would be delivered from Paris to their lovers. Among these letters, many were written by older folk.

"Old woman: Today, no grandchildren, just you and me. I'll wait for you at ...," said one of the letters, which was posted on the microblog website, drawing admiration and respect of Internet users.

Unlike others who would like to celebrate the festival with their spouses, Liu Xiaoyan asked three couples, all in their 40s or 50s, for dinner together and booked a room for KTV.

Liu said every Valentine's Day she could sense the romantic atmosphere everywhere, making her uneasy to some extent. But she also found it embarrassing if she and her husband celebrated the festival alone.

"Chinese people are introverts, and if friends spend the festival together, we won't feel lonely or awkward," she said. "Middle-aged people like us hope to keep our love fresh."

With the development of China's economic development and social progress, people tend to have more demands for affection, which includes not just romantic love, but also family bonds and friendship, said Jia Xiaming, a psychologist with the College of Humanities and Social Sciences from the Beijing Institute of Technology.

"More middle-aged and elderly people recognize the festival, which is a good opportunity for them to express their feelings and promote a harmonious family spirit," said Jia.