Are Traditional Festivals Crumbling like Cake?

Updated: 2007-06-21 08:56

This undated photo shows a group of young people in traditional Han-style clothes honouring the tradition of Duanwujie, or Dragon Boat Festival.

June 19 marked this year's Duanwujie, or Dragon Boat Festival, one of the most important traditional festivals in China, following the Mid-autumn Festival and the Spring Festival. But how many people still feel the spirit of the day?

A community in Shanghai last week planned to host a Dragon Boat Festival folk culture contest, inviting young people to learn how to make festival food zongzi and fragrant bags, a traditional accessory for the festival. To the organizers' surprise, only 10 young people agreed to take part. Many others turned down the invitation, saying that they were too busy to come.

Among those who felt depressed about the current state of the festival celebration were elders. Ms. Zhang is a retired worker from Shanghai. To celebrate the festival, Ms. Zhang and her husband prepared delicious food for their daughter and son-in-law, hoping they could return home for the festival. However, the young couple simply told their parents that they didn't have time to do so. Ms. Zhang fears that it will never happen again - this scene of the whole family sitting together, wrapping zongzi and enjoying their festival dishes.

Many young people gave their own explanation for this behavior. Ms. Cao is a white collar worker living in Shanghai. As for the folk culture contests, she says that she was not in such activities. Though she recognises that it is traditional to make Zongzi and wear fragrant bags, she didnt think it absolutely necessary to do so, since people can buy these goods at any places.

Ms. Huang, a middle school teacher, argues that the traditional festivals have been made almost "edible" by businesspeople. Zongzi, moon cakes, they're all affected the same way: The more cultural content it is assumed to have, the higher the price it fetches.

Mr. Gong, a civil servant, also agrees that the booming economy is keeping the traditions away from us. People now become more accustomed to the fast-food style of life, losing the patience to savour the nutrience of tradition.