China Voice: No need to poop China’s Christmas party [Xinhua]

BEIJING, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) — The jingling bells of China’s Christmas celebrations bring little cheer to some diehard proponents of traditional culture.

As young Chinese swarmed to shopping malls, cinemas and restaurants on Christmas Eve, some were “celebrating” Christmas by watching traditional cultural films — a college of the Northwest University in Shaanxi Province reportedly used this trick to keep its students from celebrating Christmas.

In the eastern city of Wenzhou, schools and kindergartens were banned from holding Christmas activities. A local official said schools should not obsess over Western festivals at the expense of Chinese ones.

There is a rising enthusiasm for traditional culture of late. Grand ceremonies were held across China this year to mark the anniversary of Confucius, parents have pushed their children to recite ancient Chinese classics and experts have called for the classics to be listed as a required course for students.

The debates over Christmas, however, reveal certain anxieties behind China’s cultural ambitions. Some critics associate Christmas with a public obsession for anything Western, while others lament the “shipwreck” of Chinese culture.

For Chinese Christmas fans, the logic is simple: Like Valentine’s Day, Christmas is just a merry time to shop, party and exchange gifts. Non-Christian Chinese associate Christmas more with the “Old Man of Christmas”, Santa Claus, than any Christian theology.

One reason for the growing popularity of Western festivals here, particularly among the young, is that they offer an excuse to be with friends and lovers, while traditional festivals are more family-centered, celebrated with family get-togethers and feasts.

There is no need to pit Western festivals against Chinese: Chinese Christmas revelers will still number among the hundreds of millions who travel home for the Lunar New Year family reunion.

That said, what Chinese festivals can learn from Christmas fever is how to build up their appeal. There are Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Halloween movies but few such pop-culture biproducts [sic] exist for Chinese festivals, except for some festive foods.

Even the mooncake and other traditional sweets are evolving to suit low-calorie [sic] modern life, as will traditional festivals, but evolution lies in confidently facing up to cultural imports. Barring them from joining the game is no fun.

Edited by Zuo Shou

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