The scenes of millions of Chinese stranded by the heavy snow but eager to return home could actually be material for the Spring Festival to apply for "Intangible Cultural Heritage" (ICH) status for the event, a folk customs expert said.
A group has been established to prepare such an application, according to Ye Chunsheng, a well-known folk customs expert and professor at the Guangzhou-based Zhongshan University.
The Chinese Lunar New Year (Spring Festival), which starts on Thursday, is the country's most important annual time for family reunions. However, this year, unusually harsh weather severed China's transport arteries, forcing millions of people to delay or even cancel their trips home for the seven-day festival.
"People persisting in waiting for trains in the cold reflects the importance that Chinese attach to the Spring Festival," said Ye. "These are vivid materials for the ICH application."
Many ordinary Chinese, as well as some experts, support the application of the Spring Festival for ICH, so as to preserve the traditional Chinese culture and customs.
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), an ICH should embody practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage.
As a member of the UNESCO 18-member inter-governmental committee to safeguard ICH, China has been strengthening efforts in ICH protection in the past few years.
Since 2001, several forms of artistry have been proclaimed by UNESCO as Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. These are Kun Qu, one of China's oldest forms of opera; the Chinese zither or Guqin, a solo musical instrument dating back 3,000 years; Xinjiang Uygur Muqam, a blend of song, dance, folk and classical music, and Long Song, a type of Mongolian lyrical chant.
(Xinhua News Agency February 7, 2008)