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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Festival surge not just about fun

By Wang Xiaodong (Chinadaily.com.cn)

16:27, February 22, 2012

Residents of both the Chinese mainland and Taiwan enjoy themselves in a water-splashing event during a cross-Straits cultural exchange in Shishi, Fujian province, last year. Provided to China Daily

BEIJING - The surge of festivals across China may have implications beyond people filling their daily lives with special occasions, experts say.

By the end of last year, more than 10,000 festivals were celebrated by various ethnic groups in China, twice as many as several years ago, according to a survey conducted by the Jiangsu Festivals and Events Association, a nonprofit organization administrated by Jiangsu province's cultural affairs department.

In addition to national and traditional celebrations, such as Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) and Lantern Festival, many local ethnic celebrations are held in China. There is, for example, Water Splash Festival observed by the Dai ethnic group, mainly in Southwest China's multiethnic Yunnan province, and Bull Fighting Festival, celebrated by the Dong people.

"Most of the 10,000 festivals are set up by local governments for commercial purposes, such as Strawberry Festival, Beer Festival and Crayfish Festival," said Lu Xueyi, a sociology professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"It is easy to set up the occasions ... if an agreement is reached by several villages," he said. "That's why there are so many kinds of festivals across the country."

Local governments promote the occasions for economic benefit, Lu said. "Festivals and events are giant commercial advertisements for local governments."

Many such celebrations began emerging in the 1980s, after China adopted reforms and its opening-up policy, Lu said. They were also ways to develop local economy and help people shake off poverty.

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