恭喜發財! That phrase has a literal meaning but, in practice, it’s used as a verbal cue to either fork over one or more envelopes of banknotes or to pause for a moment to receive some envelopes of cash or to do both. There’s traditional visiting and eating involved too, mostly to ensure that family members don’t dodge their obligations to give you money (or vice versa).
Details aside, it’s another Chinese festival that theoretically lasts a week or a few days but actually drags on far longer and is preceded by a precipitous decline in workers’ gumption and followed by a lag in productivity as workers get back up to speed. A lot of useful activities cease for a prolonged period.
The logistics information for a Taobao purchase of mine, shown in the screen capture that tops this post, indicates that the merchant waited just a smidgeon too long (January 28th) to call for a courier to pick up my order, so it will sit around for a week or two or longer. Directly above is another screen capture, of an exchange I had with a different seller yesterday. He won’t be shipping any orders until February 15th. Even if merchants were willing to work, the couriers on cargo trikes who serve as the glue of China’s logistics system have pretty much disappeared.