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When 'Chinese Fortune Grandpa' meets 'Santa Claus'

The kindly "Chinese Fortune Grandpa" wearing Han Chinese clothing and holding a fortune bag debuted at the Imperial Ancestral Shrine in Beijing on the day after Christmas. The final image of the Chinese gift-giver was selected through a global design competition that cost millions of yuan. Its debut seems to be a sign of competition against "Santa Claus", according to a report by Guangming Daily.

Many Chinese cities have been filled with Christmas neon lights, Christmas songs, Christmas trees, and the images of "Santa Claus" in recent days, and the business of hotels and restaurants has been exceptionally brisk. As a matter of fact, foreign festivals are becoming more popular than certain traditional Chinese festivals among the Chinese people, particularly the youth.

"Certain traditional festivals have died out because people have forgotten their spiritual connotations," said noted writer Feng Jicai. More and more Chinese people are beginning to exchange gifts on Valentine's Day and Christmas. However, many of them know nothing about Chinese New Year pictures or sugarcoated figurines, have never heard suona music, and cannot recognize wormwood or calami. Certain folk customs on the Dragon Boat Festival, Tomb Sweeping Day, and other traditional festivals have gradually disappeared. Under such circumstances, even the "Chinese Fortune Grandpa" is unlikely to defeat "Santa Claus".

However, it is not a bad thing to some extent. It constantly reminds people to restore the "true face" of traditional festivals. China has listed traditional Tomb Sweeping Day, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival as legal holidays, which brings more paid leaves to the public, and is conducive to awaken the public awareness of traditional festivals. Obviously, this method cannot truly root traditional festivals in the hearts of people and their charm has turned into an empty shell of culture.

In modern society, festival is a carrier of culture and its meaning and connotation largely depend on their understandings and usages by people. Compared with foreign festivals, traditional Chinese festivals are not inferior in cultural connotation, but lack of fashionable elements pursued by modern people. If people do not appreciate the historical culture contained by traditional festivals, and only take pleasure-seeking as the essence, the significance of traditional festivals will fade away and the inheritance of fine traditional culture will be cut off. In this sense, the figure of "Chinese Fortune Grandpa" is a cultural logo, showing Chinese people's understanding and expectations of traditional culture and demonstrating the tolerance and strength of modern civilization. The creative combination will award marks for the "Chinese Fortune Grandpa" in its "contest" with "Santa Claus".

In fact, any traditional culture cannot be self-enclosed in the era of global village. Nowadays, some of Chinese people are keen on celebrating foreign festivals while foreigners more like to celebrate traditional Chinese festivals. In the face of cultural conflict and integration, we should dig the tradition as well as tolerate diversified choices. Noted sociologist Fei Xiaotong had said that as one of the major powers with ancient civilizations, China should have broad breadth of mind and cultural ambition. Therefore, the "Chinese Fortune Grandpa" should coexist with "Santa Claus" and jointly bring joy to people.

 

Source: www.ecns.cn
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