We need to nurture festival spirit
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.