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Importance of festivals today

By Xiao Lixin  (China Daily)

09:20, June 17, 2013

(China Daily/Pang Li)

An increasing number of people in their 20s and early 30s seem to be celebrating Western festivals and losing interest in traditional Chinese festivals. They are doing so perhaps because they find it difficult to spend Chinese holidays in the traditional way. For example, many people complain that the Dragon Boat Festival is only about rice dumplings and, hence, they prefer celebrating festivals like Father's Day instead. Youths are becoming interested in Western festivals such as Father's Day and Mother's Day especially because they give them the chance to show their love for their parents.

Until quite recently, Chinese people used to look forward to traditional festivals like the Dragon Boat Festival. Not long ago, grandmothers and mothers used to put all their love and energy into making zongzi, a pyramid-shaped glutinous rice dumpling stuffed with dates and red beans and wrapped in bamboo leaves. Cleaning the house and decorating the doors with mugwort leaves and calamus, which emit a special aroma that wards off mosquitoes, flies and other insects, were part of the preparations.

But what children used to enjoy most was wearing a colorful, fragrant silk pouch and tying five-color silk threads around their wrists and ankles, which were supposed to be removed and thrown into a river only after the first summer rain, because it was believed that would protect them from diseases. Today very few parents, especially those who live in cities, follow the custom and not many shops and stores sell the traditional articles.

Instead, foreign festivals such as Christmas are becoming a favorite among people, particularly the young. In fact, the older generation, too, enjoys celebrating them. Also, it is not uncommon to see malls and even some mom-and-dad shops selling roses and chocolates for Valentine's Day.

Some Chinese do find the changing trend unacceptable and see it as a "cultural invasion". A couple of years ago, a dozen scholars from several prestigious universities gave a joint call to ignore foreign festivals such as Christmas. They claimed that by blindly following the West, Chinese people were neglecting their traditional festivals and rich cultural traditions.

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