Don't ignore own culture for Xmas, schools tell students

Updated: 2014-12-26 07:37

By Yan Yiqi in Hangzhou(China Daily USA)

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On Wednesday evening, as Beijing streets were choked while the city's residents rushed home to celebrate Christmas Eve, about 20,000 students of the Modern College of Northwest University in Xi'an were kept on campus to watch a film on Chinese traditional culture from 6 to 9 pm.

The college, in the capital of Shaanxi province, banned students, most of whom are in their early 20s, from celebrating Christmas.

The school's micro blog said that the cultural elements behind traditional Chinese festivals are vanishing because people are more concerned about Western ones.

"We should not forget our own culture," it said.

The college is not the only institution to see a backlash against the Western festival.

In Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, principals of elementary and junior high schools received text messages from the city's education bureau on Monday that banned any form of activity relating to Christmas on campus.

In Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, eight students from Hunan Aeronautical Vocational and Technical College went to the city on Christmas Eve while wearing traditional costumes from the Han Dynasty (202 BC-AD 220) and holding banners to call attention to Chinese culture.

Wan Changsheng, who organized the activity, said that they hope Chinese people treat Western festivals like Christmas in a rational way.

Zheng Shangzhong, an official at the Basic Education Department of Wenzhou Eduation Bureau, agreed. Zheng said this is the first time the bureau has sent text notifications to stop schools from holding such activities, and did so "not to disparage Christmas, but to guide schools to attach importance to Chinese traditional festivals".

"It is good that students have certain knowledge toward Western festivals, but we do not think it is necessary to celebrate or even advocate such festivals," Zheng said.

"Schools should hold activities to celebrate Chinese festivals so that students can better understand our own culture," Zheng said.

Yang Suqin, principal of Wenzhou Guangchanglu Elementary School, said some English-language teachers at the school had prepared activities for Christmas. After receiving the notification, the activities were called off, but it hadn't caused much inconvenience.

Some experts say the emphasis on "less Christmas, more Chinese" does not necessarily help promote Chinese culture.

Xu Jijun, a researcher at the Zhejiang Academy of Social Sciences, said: "In a globalized society, celebrating Western festivals and maintaining Chinese culture do not contradict each other. If we overemphasize an opposition to Western culture, we will end up a narrow and closed society."

Lyv Chunrong in Changsha contributed to this story.