A group of PhD students at several of China's biggest and best universities came together last week to release a letter calling for Chinese to boycott Christmas—a holiday they see as representing waning interest in traditional Chinese culture—and all the rest of non-native cultural trends. Presumably not a very popular stance in China, most bloggers took issue with their reasoning, and had sightly different ideas about where exactly the blame should lay.
Having read this part of the PhDs’ remarks, I strongly objected. First off, I feel that Occidental culture in China becoming ‘fierce winds and gushing rain’ is not something that only just happened now, nor is it only manifested in ‘doing Christmas’. In fact, the lives of us modern Chinese have been influenced in every single aspect by “Occidental culture”. A few examples off the top of my head: the clothes we wear everyday, the shoes, are Occidental; the vehicles we ride are Occidental; the appliances we use in our homes are Occidental; the education we receive is Occidental; the computers we use at work are Occidental; even if you get sick, more than half of us get treated with Western medicine. Is it possible these “ten doctors” feel we must wear full-body robes and Mandarin jackets, wear cloth slippers and sit our asses up on 8-man sedans? Light red lanterns, read The Four Books and Five Classics and write eight-part essays, spin abacus beads instead of going online, speak in affected ancient Chinese or moan in melancholy [like when translating obscure ancient Chinese phrasing]? Sick? Only take Chinese herbal medicine, or else call a witch doctor. Only then will we ‘move out of collective cultural unconsciousness, raise up Chinese culture'? Should we be learning from the Taliban, rashly and absolutely forbidding “degenerate culture”, promoting our traditions, start binding women's feet or make men wear braids again, to show our determination to return to tradition?
Put that way, one can imagine that anti-Xmas views in China don't represent the majority of Chinese, urban and educated at least, who seem more interested in getting closer in tune with the rest of the world, starting with their neighbors in Asia. Old school blogger He Caitou posted a Chinese-language news story on the students’ letter, to which commenter K said:
看看日本韩国对西方文化的崇拜永远超过我们, 可是它们对传统文化的保留好像比我们好一百倍. 台湾香港比我们西化, 对中华文化的保持却比我们好. 我们知道什么? 你不去农村, 你甚至不知道中国的婚礼应该讲究什么. 他们以为抵制了西洋文化, 就能保住自己的文化吗? 放P
Communism might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but seems to have been abandoned lately. Could these PhD students be closet Confucianists, hoping for some pull? Maybe Chinese (bloggers) are enjoying the lack of heavy ideology of the last few years. From Sohu blogger Huang Si:
A few years ago, weren't orders being issued everywhere banning the use of fireworks and firecrackers during Chinese New Year? How did that turn out? Not only were they not in fact banned at the time, but under the pressure from massive traditional habits and customs, they were actually repermitted, one by one, by those people who banned them in the first place.
[Several days ago American President Bush ran a letter of congratulations in the fourteenth anniversary issue of The China Press, wishing all Chinese a happy holiday.
In the letter, Bush said that for all overseas Chinese, The Year of the Monkey will be a time for family reunions, parties with friends, and to remember forefathers, at the same time welcomed a new spring and properous new year.
Bush says he and his wife Laura wish the very best to all Chinese, wishing them a happy new year, healthy and meaningful.
For a great nation, and one said to be on the rise, not only does it need to be in the forefront of the times in considering matters of economics and politics, but in culture as well, with an all-accepting mind and spirit, facing down other peoples’ cultural traditions. Only thus will we be able to develop our own intiatives.
With no symbols or mention of Jesus or Mary attached to Chinese-style Xmas, not much connection to churches at all really, maybe it's better just to let the holiday be what it's already become, a chance to spend money, have fun, enjoy recently-expanded social spaces. From Sina blogger Tianmu Mountain Man, from the Sina Blog front page: