China's "day of love" on February 22, 2022
Tuesday, February 22, is being called one of China's most "loving" dates in recent memory, as the number two in Chinese has a similar pronunciation to the Chinese word for love.
On this special occasion, many Chinese people have decided to tie the knot to give their own special days an added meaning.
At about 9 am, Jiang Shaoxin and Wang Yi arrived at the Registry of Marriages in Yuzhong District, southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.
The couple obtained their marriage license and made a lifelong promise to each other. The two said that February 22, just two days after the close of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, embodies their own kismet through a series of surprising coincidences.
Jiang and Wang got to know each other at a skiing club where they were both practicing snowboarding. Their common interest soon turned to love. During the Beijing Winter Olympics, they watched the competitions together, cheering for their favorite athletes Gu Ailing and Su Yiming.
February 22 is the date that contains the most twos in recent years, and it even falls on a Tuesday, which is expressed in Chinese as "weekday two." The even number two is viewed by Chinese as auspicious as it can refer to a pair or a couple. The day is also Wang's birthday, the couple said.
"We hope we can further develop our common hobby after getting married, and experience ice and snow sports across China during the winter sports boom brought about by the Beijing Winter Olympics," Jiang said.
Many people are also spending the day with family. And loving bonds are not only forged through kinship but also through intergenerational cultural traditions.
At noon, Yang Li, a practitioner of the Miao ethnic group's signature embroidery craft, played with an embroidered ball with her daughter at a corner shop specializing in the form of intangible cultural heritage. The shop, located in the scenic area of Tongren City in southwest China's multiethnic Guizhou Province, serves as an exhibition space for her masterpieces embroidered on leaves.
Yang, 46, now pricks traditional Miao patterns into the veins of leaves, a once-lost art dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911). After years and hundreds of attempts to prepare suitable leaves for the delicate handicraft, Yang has permanently damaged her hands by using the necessary chemicals.
"It is my sheer passion and love that have made me soldier on with the ancient craft." And the embroidery master would like to pass on her beloved art to her daughter. "My child seems very taken with colors. When she grows up, I hope to gradually teach her Miao embroidery."
Despite the special date, simple family reunions have been difficult for some people living in parts of China impacted by COVID-19 outbreaks.
For Lai Lichuan, a 28-year-old medical worker in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the rare time he spends on the phone with his wife at night is the most relaxing part of his day, after long hours of sampling work.
Lai has spent eight hours a day for 18 consecutive days in the narrow space of a container-like nucleic acid testing vehicle. This has been his daily routine since the border city of Baise reported the first local infection in its latest outbreak on February 5.
During the first week, the city logged over 200 COVID-19 cases. Since then, Guangxi has sent more than 16,000 medical workers to accelerate nucleic acid screening. Multiple mobile COVID-19 test vehicles have been used to collect and test a daily average of over 12,000 samples.
At the mention of Tuesday and the special meaning it holds in China, Lai said he felt relieved. "The new outbreak in Guangxi has been brought under control step by step, and locals are resuming normal work and life. As a grassroots medical worker, I'm glad that my hard work has paid off."
"The zero-case policy demonstrates our country's unremitting endeavors to safeguard the health of its people. I hope the scattered local infections across China can be brought under control and that all of us will be able to reunite with our loved ones, safe and sound," he said.
This week also marks the beginning of this year's spring academic semester.
Yang Xiuhua, a middle school principal in Guyuan City, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, chose to greet her students on Tuesday with a pep talk.
Located in Xihaigu in Ningxia, an area declared "uninhabitable" by the UN World Food Programme, the school educates students from poor rural households where children are living alone or with their grandparents.
The care they receive from the dedicated educator has had a life-changing impact on the students. For over a decade, Yang has been teaching "left-behind" children to understand their self-worth. The school also provides extracurricular lectures on sex education, including necessary knowledge of personal physiological hygiene and mental health.
"Some day, the students will become parents. And I hope the proper understanding of sex and the concept of their own self-worth will be passed on through generations," the principal said.