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Chinese re-discovering traditional fun of Spring Festival
Latest Updated by 2006-02-08 09:50:46

Red lanterns, dumplings, fireworks and the traditional three-word greeting of "Guo Nian Hao" (Happy New Year) have lived on in China during the Spring Festival.

Modern Chinese have been re-discovering the traditional fun of the festival about two decades after the country opened to the world and exposed itself to various cultures.

Beijing lifted a 12-year ban on setting off fireworks in the urban areas following public demand. The move came after similar acts in other cities.

The ban on fireworks in the urban areas was implemented in the early 1990s after the traditional celebrations resulted in many casualties.

Some experts, however, believe that the ban diminished the glamor of traditional festivals so that more young people converted to foreign celebrations. They called on the public to protect traditional festivals.

A Declaration to Safeguard the Spring Festival was posted by a folklore scholar before this year's festival on Jan. 29, calling on the nation to protect the vulnerable Chinese festivals.

"Globalization, urbanization and commercialization have been etching traditional Chinese rituals and celebrations. The Chinese are discarding the cultural meaning, spiritual values and psychological effects of many festivals to air grievances and relieve stress," said Gao Youpeng, a professor with Henan University, who posted the declaration.

"Some foreign festivals then suddenly boomed in China partly because of the market operation. We should safeguard the traditional festivals amid the siege of foreign celebrations," Gao said.

The declaration received a remarkable response and widespread support from the public.

"Some cities ban burning fireworks; some urbanites no longer post traditional red papers with auspicious words; some buy frozen dumplings instead of making the tasty traditional food which represents family union itself," said Dang Xichen, a student with Zhengzhou University. Dang supported and signed his name on the declaration.

"All these changes prove that our traditional festivals need protection. I don't know what else we can celebrate if we lose interest in the Spring Festival," Dang said.

Burning fireworks during the Spring Festival is believed to ward off evil for thousands of years in China, and it is said that Chinese ancestors first burnt bamboo which let out pitter-patter sounds to celebrate the harvest.

"I don't know the exact origin of burning fireworks, but I love the sound. It's just like the fireworks are yelling for me. Our parents are busy everyday and we are burdened with school work. The fireworks somehow help me vent my anxiety," said Wang Xinxin, a middle school student in Tianjin Municipality.

The Spring Festival has recently been included in the recommendation list for intangible cultural heritage in China.

The festival falls on the first day of the Lunar New Year. Families will stay together making dumplings, setting off fireworks, posting red papers with auspicious words or patterns on walls, doors and windows, giving gift money to children and visiting relatives or friends. The celebration usually lasts for about a week and is then followed by the Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month.

Editor: Wing

By: Source:China View website
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