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Time for Lanterns and More Changes

Today, the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month, is the traditional Lantern Festival.

For many modern Chinese, however, lanterns and sweet dumplings made of glutinous rice flour are still their favourites for the traditional festival.

Xu Man, a young lawyer from East China's Shanghai said: "The Lanterns Festival would not be a festival, if there were no gorgeous lanterns."

Yet another Lunar New Year tradition is definitely dying away.

Contrasted with eons-old practice of paying door-to-door visits to relatives and friends, more people now prefer high-tech tools to exchange greetings.

Moreover, a growing number of people, especially in big cities, are shunning the custom of staying home for family reunions while eating good food.

Instead, they spend their holidays in saloons, libraries, gymnasiums, fitness clubs and even tour foreign countries.

The changes during the most important traditional festival in China have aroused hot debate among cultural and folklore experts.

Xu Xiao, who teaches the Chinese, considered the subdued festive mood during the Spring Festival as a loss of traditional culture.

He blamed the abandonment of some symbolic rites -- such as the ban on fireworks in some cities -- for a weakening interest in the Spring Festival among young people.

But renowned writer Feng Jicai hailed the changes as social progress that should be encouraged.

"With changing times and life styles, it is natural for people to change the ways to celebrate a traditional festival," he said.

"After all, it is the way of celebrating rather than the festival itself that has changed."


(China Daily February 5, 2004)

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