Tech giants add digital twist to Spring Festival traditions

An interactive lighting display in Yuyuan Garden and virtual holiday stickers are some of the special digital delights from China's tech titans.

Chinese cultural traditions are taking on a touch of technology as tech giants leverage Chinese consumers’ enthusiasm for all things digital.

The annual lantern festival at the historic Yuyuan Garden has a new look this year, with voice recognition technology from Alibaba’s AI Labs used to control lighting decorations.

Xu Chong, general manager of Yuyuan Creativity Lab & the Commercial Properties Lantern business unit, said the festival would consider adding more interactive elements through voice recognition and other technologies to better connect with visitors in the future.

“Using new technologies to bring vitality to the traditional lantern festival is a crucial step to attract younger visitors,” she added.

The month-long celebration attracts about 6 million visitors every year.

Meanwhile, as a virtual fortune sticker event enters its fifth year on Alipay, a special sticker for family reunions will be offered to showcase the special meaning of family gatherings in Chinese culture.

Some 300,000 of Alipay’s business partners and merchants in 56 countries and regions will add fortune stickers in their offline stores to celebrate the holiday with overseas Chinese as well as tourists.

Over the past four years, 450 million Alipay users have collected more than 10 billion virtual fortune stickers. 

More than 185 million users have also won the chance to enter an online lucky draw to divide 500 million yuan (US2.4 million) in cash rewards this year.

Sina’s microblogging site Weibo has offered a virtual sticker campaign as well. On the Chinese New Year’s Eve, participants can win a share of 100 million yuan in cash bonuses.

Baidu is promoting short video and other services, and has offered 10 types of virtual stickers for users to collect. More than 17 million users have collected all 10 different stickers, to share a total of 200 million yuan. 

China’s two top short video platforms, Kuaishou and Douyin, are launching campaigns during the holiday as well.

Short video platform Kuaishou will send out red packets totaling 1 billion yuan on the eve of the Chinese New Year.

Douyin is also the exclusive social media partner of this year’s CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala and encourages users to submit Spring Festival-related clips and interact with the live broadcast on New Year’s Eve.