We need to nur­ture fes­ti­val spirit

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - China - By LIU XIANGRUI

Chi­nese peo­ple cel­e­brate a lot of fes­ti­vals, most of which take place on im­por­tant dates in the Chi­nese lu­nar cal­en­dar.

Chi­nese New Year, also known as Spring Fes­ti­val, with a week of of­fi­cial pub­lic hol­i­day, is China’s most im­por­tant tra­di­tional fes­ti­val. Then there are other well­known fes­ti­vals such as MidAu­tumn Fes­ti­val, the Dragon Boat Fes­ti­val and Qing­ming Fes­ti­val.

Guo Wen­bin, a cul­tural critic, be­lieves that tra­di­tional fes­ti­vals, as a key part of Chi­nese cul­ture and Chi­nese iden­tity, have mod­ern sig­nif­i­cance by help­ing to en­hance peo­ple’s hap­pi­ness and so­cial har­mony.

Guo, chair­man of the writ­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion in Ningxia Hui au­ton­o­mous re­gion and ed­i­torin-chief of Yel­low River Lit­er­a­ture magazine, has au­thored sev­eral pop­u­lar books.

Guo has paid great at­ten­tion to the pro­mo­tion of tra­di­tional cul­ture in his work. He spent 12 years writ­ing Lu­nar Cal­en­dar, a novel based around tra­di­tional Chi­nese fes­ti­vals. The book was nom­i­nated for the na­tion­ally sig­nif­i­cant Mao Dun Lit­er­ary Prize and has been reprinted sev­eral times. He also wrote a series of cul­tural es­says on tra­di­tional fes­ti­vals.

“Fes­ti­vals are part of ev­ery­day life — but the grace­ful, re­fined, spir­i­tual and po­etic part. They help us set the rhythm for our life, and en­rich as well as em­bel­lish our lives,” Guo says.

“More im­por­tantly, cul­tural in­her­i­tance is re­al­ized in the form of tra­di­tional fes­ti­vals. With­out the tra­di­tional fes­ti­vals, the folk tra­di­tions of the Chi­nese civ­i­liza­tion will be dis­con­tin­ued.”

Ac­cord­ing to Guo, the tra­di­tional fes­ti­vals give peo­ple a sense of com­fort, as they — be­sides be­com­ing the ge­netic col­lec­tive con­scious­ness of the Chi­nese peo­ple — were care­fully de­signed in ac­cor­dance with the uni­verse and the rhythms of life to give peo­ple time to rest and recharge them­selves through cel­e­bra­tion.

In re­cent years, the Chi­nese govern­ment has at­tached great im­por­tance to the pro­mo­tion of tra­di­tional cul­ture, in­clud­ing the tra­di­tional fes­ti­vals. An in­struc­tion on the in­her­i­tance and devel­op­ment of China’s ex­cel­lent tra­di­tional cul­ture was is­sued by the Gen­eral Of­fice of the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and Gen­eral Of­fice of the State Coun­cil in early 2017.

China’s ex­cel­lent tra­di­tional cul­ture should be bet­ter in­te­grated into all as­pects of peo­ple’s work and life, it said, propos­ing ac­tiv­i­ties themed on tra­di­tional fes­ti­vals and a re­vi­tal­iza­tion pro­ject to en­rich the cul­tural con­no­ta­tions of tra­di­tional fes­ti­vals, in­clud­ing the form­ing new fes­ti­val cus­toms.

Guo notes that, in re­al­ity, the in­her­i­tance and pro­mo­tion of tra­di­tional fes­ti­vals and cus­toms still face dif­fi­cul­ties.

The grad­ual de­cline of ru­ral so­ci­ety — from which tra­di­tional fes­ti­vals orig­i­nated and thrived — due to rapid ur­ban­iza­tion, the in­flux of young peo­ple into cities far away and the lim­ited pub­lic hol­i­day al­lowance for tra­di­tional fes­ti­vals, as well as the in­ter­fer­ence and dis­tor­tion of some tra­di­tional fes­ti­vals by com­mer­cial en­ti­ties, are just a few.

Such fac­tors have caused some peo­ple to cel­e­brate the fes­ti­vals, but only on a su­per­fi­cial level and in a for­mal­ized way, while for­get­ting about the cul­ture be­hind the cus­toms and tra­di­tional fes­ti­vals them­selves.

Guo sug­gests that the govern­ment should in­crease in­vest­ment to pro­mote fes­ti­val cul­ture among the pub­lic.

While the trend of com­mer­cial­iza­tion will not go away soon, Guo be­lieves peo­ple’s de­sire to re­vive tra­di­tional cul­ture and fes­ti­vals re­mains strong.

“As long as more and more peo­ple choose to have a spir­i­tual life, tra­di­tional fes­ti­vals will not suf­fer a fa­tal blow (from com­mer­cial­iza­tion),” Guo says.

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