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Feng Jicai:Our Common Days(英文代序)

2017-11-30 15:53:04 作者:jinlei

Feng Jicai: Our Common Days

(Preface)

   The most important day for one person is his or her birthday while the most important days for all are festivals, which are our common days.

   Festivals are embedded with rich connotations for remembering. There’re ethnic, national, and religious ones, such as the National Day and the Christmas Day; festivals for certain group of people, such as the Women’s Day, the Children’s Day, and the Laborers’ Day; and those closely related to people’s life and production, which enjoy long history and feature their well-established festive traditions passed on from one generation to another. These are so-called traditional festivals, which vary greatly, too.

   China, consisting of 56 nationalities, is a multi-ethnic country. People in China are collectively called the Chinese nation. So it’s no wonder that some of the traditional festivals are celebrated by all nationalities while others only by certain nationalities, with the representatives of the former ones being the Spring Festival, the Lantern Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival, the Tomb Sweeping Festival, and the Double Ninth Festival, etc. and that of the latter being the Qiang New Year, a unique festival for Qiang ethnic group. Each of ethnic groups in China has quite a number of their unique traditional festivals.

The traditional festivals have taken shape in the long agrarian times when people are greatly dependent on nature and when life is closely related to production. People gradually saw eye to eye with each other in the long-term practicing sets of rituals, celebrations, taboos as well as games, embellishments, and foods in a strict way and decided to select some days of one year as festivals with a view to expressing their gratitude to nature, celebrating harvesting, stimulating vitality of life, or strengthening bonds between family members and relatives. In this way, festivals have evolved into charming days with unique connotations. More importantly, people have instilled their common aspirations and aesthetic pursuits into festive connotations and rituals. I can simply say that festivals are consummate demonstrations of Chinese people’s worldly aspirations and ideals, and Chinese people’s spiritual cultures are inherited for generations by them.

Nevertheless, the cultural traditions formed in the agrarian times began to collapse with human beings being in transition from agrarian civilization to industrial one, esp., in China, whose festive cultures were severely hammered by modern civilization and foreign cultures in the nearly one hundred years from being closed to opening up to the world. Nowadays, people strongly feel that traditional festivals are drifting away from their lives and are deeply concerned about it owing to the fact that dilution of traditional festivals means the fall of the traditional spirit of Chinese people. Of course, we don’t wait and see; instead, we cope with it in a positive way. This fully displays the contemporary Chinese people’s cultural consciousness.

In recent ten years, the traditional festivals have been earning more and more attention and some significant ones are included to the list of the National Heritages with the vigorous promotion of China’s Folk Heritage Rescue Program and China’s intangible cultural heritage application; for example, China set the second Saturday of June as “Cultural Heritage Day” in 2006; the State Council decided to list three significant traditional festivals as legal holidays—the Tomb Sweeping Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival, and the Mid-Autumn Festival in 2007. These measures show the state gives priority to and pay tribute to inheritance of public traditional cultures.

Holidays are necessary for spending festivals which will be diluted otherwise; however, holidays don’t necessarily bring back traditional festivals. Since festivals, different from holidays, are equipped with special cultural forms and contents, it’s essential to recover those traditional festive customs which have become stranger and stranger to contemporary Chinese people.

In the past thousands of years, our ancestors, starting from their aspirations, created many fine and engaging traditions. These aspirations are ideal, emotional, and beautiful, so are the festival traditions. People usher in the New Year by having the meal together on the New Year’s Eve, make moon cakes by imitating the moon in the sky, standing for family reunion, or go to sweep the tombs of ancestors or family members for commemorating or comforting in the early spring when the winter just recedes and everything wakes up while taking spring hiking and enjoying spring scenes by the way. These poetic festive customs greatly comfort souls of people for generations.

As for ethnic minority people, their special festivals mean more to them. The festivals carry the collective memory, common spirit, character of their ethnic groups as well as mark their ethnic identities.

Are the traditional festive customs really out-dated? We’re compelled to review them if we really forget them. What matters for review is not imitating the forms of the ancient Chinese people’s celebrations but experiencing essence and emotions embedded in them with heart and soul.

Traditions have evolved with history’s evolving, but the traditional national spirit has never changed. The spirit lies in people’s never-ending pursuit for beautiful life, consistent gratitude and awe for nature, constant aspiration for family reunion and world harmony.

This is also the theme of our festivals and the root-cause of compiling the series.

The Chinese nation, featuring its colorful and varieties of festive cultures, boasts the common festivals celebrated by all nationalities, such as the Spring Festival, the Lantern Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival, and the ethnic festivals, such as the Water Splashing Festival (Thai people), the Torch Festival (Yi people), the Nadam Fair (Mongolian nationality). This series, selecting the most typical ten festivals of China, with each festival being in one volume with figures and in both English and Chinese, unfold the colorful festive and folk cultures in an engaging and all-round way for appealing to foreign readers. If put together, they constitute a complete set of books on Chinese traditional festivals, being instructive and intriguing. The ten brochures elaborate on the origins, distribution, and customs of each festival in an engaging way with figures, tales, and rich literature. Chinese people’s spiritual pursuit and cultural veining can be tracked in this series, serving as a summary of Chinese traditional festivals and innovative promotion of them.

I went over the series with delight, and with delight, wrote the preface, too.

   

 

 

                                             Feng Jicai

                       The Executive Vice-Chairman of China Writers’ Association

                       The Vice-Chairman of China Folk Artists’ Association

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