The Wǒ Men podcast is a bi-weekly discussion of life in China hosted by Yajun Zhang and Jingjing Zhang. Previous episodes of the Wǒ Men podcast can be found here, and you can find Wǒ Men on iTunes here.
What’s your fondest childhood memory? What was your favorite entertainment as a kid? Do you still remember your first toy?
If you ask these questions to Chinese kids born in the 1980s, ’90s or 2000s, you will receive very different responses. Both Jingjing and Yajun were born in the 1980s, during a period in which China was recovering from Cultural Revolution and the “market economy” was still an unknown term. The material scarcity led to humble lives for many Chinese families. Children were thrilled by a piece of colorful candy or a metal stick as a toy. Despite some hardship, in hindsight many of this generation’s childhood memories are rosy and sweet.
Today, on International Children’s Day, Jingjing and Yajun open their memory boxes and discuss their childhoods growing up in a rapidly changing China.
Children’s Day in China goes back to 1949, when the new People’s Republic of China leadership declared that all primary school kids would get half a day off every June 1. In 1956 it was turned into a full day’s holiday.
Then, as now, the day featured school-organized camping trips or excursions to nearby sites of interest and performance pageants. The day also often came with some classic propaganda images such as the one above, which encourages everyone to “happily celebrate Children’s Day”.
The image above comes from this thread on classic propaganda posters on Sina blogs, many of which feature similarly happy, rosy-cheeked children having a great time.
In honour of Children’s Day, join the forever young hosts of the Wǒ Men Podcast as they discuss growing up in ’80s China.