[Picture by Li Min/ China Daily]

While many may see the Spring Festival as one big extended celebration that involves a lot of eating, drinking and merrymaking, there is a serious

and often hidden side to the festivities. Here we share stories of people who explain what the event really means to them and their families and how it influences them in their daily lives.

How a focus on education helped shape his career

By Liu Xiangrui in Changde, Hunan Province

Yang Yongyan believes that his family's values, transmitted to him either in words or deeds, have played a crucial role in making him who he is today.

The 30-year-old who originally hails from a small town in Changde in Central China's Hunan province, works as a researcher at a college in Shenzhen in southern China. He returns home every year during the Spring Festival.

Yang, who gained a doctorate in education history, says that his family's belief in the value of education and culture helped him become who he is.

Yang's family was not well-off, but his parents were willing to pay more to send him to the best local high school in the area. "I didn't think much of it at first. But later I realized that I should work harder to not let them down and make their efforts worthwhile," he says.

According to Yang, he was deeply influenced by his father, who didn't go to college but was passionate about reading and writing despite his busy schedule.

His father even now subscribes to several newspapers.

According to Yang, his parents have influenced him in many other ways too.

Yang's parents, who have run a small shop at the local food market since he was young, left a deep impression on him with their hard work.

Yang says he can't remember a time in the past 18 years when his father was not awake before dawn to prepare food for their business. When he woke up for school every morning his father was already at work.

"Life was not so easy for them. But their tenacity and silent devotion to the family inspired me," says Yang.

"My father often says that challenges in life are no big deal. We just need to work hard and be optimistic."

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