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Christmas-ban debate in China misses big picture

Monday was Christmas. Many Chinese department stores are launching Christmas-themed promotions, enriching commercial streets across China with the atmosphere of Christmas. This has become common place in China’s commercial areas every year-end.
Some news has circulated that individual cities and universities were banning Christmas, which has attracted the attention of some foreign media. They exaggerated the news, saying China is banning Christmas for political considerations and to resist Western cultural invasion.
Members of the Communist Party of China in major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have not been informed of any notice that bans Christmas. The ban from some places and institutions was to maintain public security and has nothing to do with “boycotting” Christmas.
Christmas is a religious celebration for some Christians in China, but for most young people it is a shopping festival. There have long been debates about whether Chinese people should celebrate Christmas.
But these discussions have not prevented Christmas as a shopping festival from becoming more commercialized. In recent years, even traditional Chinese festivals have become more popular than ever. The popularity of the festivals can be attributed to improvements in people’s lives. People have higher demands for leisure and hope that the festivals can bring relaxation amid their busy life.
One of the reasons for the popularity of foreign festivals is that young people take it as a time to let loose and have fun. They know little about the origin or significance of these foreign festivals and they have no obligations to abide by their rites.
Another reason is that the commercial potential of many of China’s traditional festivals has not been fully explored. The public is showing greater interest in what have been seen as less important Chinese festivals such as the Qixi Festival, the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day, and the Dongzhi Festival or winter solstice festival, which is celebrated with a meal of Chinese dumplings or jiaozi.
In this era of globalized communications and cross-cultural sharing, it’s unavoidable that foreign festivals have become more popular. The influence of China’s Spring Festival is also expected to expand around the world.
Western culture has been creeping into China for more than a century, while traditional Chinese culture is being rejuvenated. At this juncture, it is understandable that Chinese society promotes its own traditional festivals and officials keep a distance from foreign festivals.
Some Western media outlets are highly sensitive to the controversy around Christmas in China and they view it through a political lens. Chinese mainstream society does not need to take it seriously.
Western opinion does not have the right to set agendas and dominate debates in China.
(Global Times)

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