The Chinese public was engaged in a heated discussion Sunday over the necessity to make Seniors' Day, which fell on Sunday, a national holiday with a day off, as a new law had stipulated that adult children should visit their parents regularly.
This is the first time Seniors' Day was celebrated after the amendment of the Law on Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly, which took effect on July 1, added regular family visits as an obligation.
The day, or the Double-Ninth Festival, has been celebrated on the ninth of the ninth month of the lunar calendar since 1989 to honor senior citizens.
However, many Net users who work far away from their hometown regarded the new legal requirement hard to fulfill, with some experts and senior citizen organizations trying to lobby for a day off on Seniors' Day for people to spend time with their parents.
Others expressed doubts over the actual effect a national holiday could have and questioned whether young adults will take the chance for more entertainment and rest.
"It is ridiculous to demand a holiday in the name of taking care of elders. One should care of his parents every day," Zhou Xiaozheng, a sociologist with the Renmin University of China (RUC), told the Global Times Sunday, adding that every individual can come up with a schedule to balance work and family.
Wu Hanzhang, founder of the Shanghai Science and Technology Service Center for Aging, echoed Zhou, saying that one must take good care of his parents throughout his life, whereas Seniors' Day should only serve as a chance to intensify the idea of filial piety.
"As much as we should advocate filial piety, it is not necessary to make it a national holiday. Modern technology has provided multiple ways to express our love to our parents in everyday life," Wu told the Global Times, adding that even a three-day holiday may not be long enough for some to travel back home.
Wu Yushao, deputy director of the China National Committee on Aging, said that the government should introduce more preferential policies to encourage people to take care of senior citizens, such as allowing employees leave, reported the Xinhua News Agency.
The population of over-60s in China reached 194 million by the end of 2012 and is expected to exceed 300 million by 2025, according to Xinhua.
Around 40 percent of elderly people regard themselves as a family burden, and only 24 percent of them could live on pensions, according to a report released by the RUC and China Association of Social Welfare on Saturday.
China should examine its population strategy and push "silver" industries to meet the increasing demands of the old, suggested State Councilor Wang Yong on Sunday.