Halloween’s spread caused by lack of confidence: expert

(By Xie Wenting Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-2 0:53:01)

Halloween has become one of the most popular foreign holidays in China following Christmas, with millions of people participating in Halloween celebrations on Saturday. Experts worry that the craze for foreign holidays reflects a lack of confidence in domestic culture. 

Before Halloween, pumpkins used to make jack-o-lanterns were reported to be sold out near kindergartens in Shanghai. Many supermarkets kept Halloween-related goods on their shelves, according to Shanghai-based news site xinmin.cn. A search on China's biggest e-commerce website Taobao for Halloween showed thousands of Halloween products including costumes and masks, selling well. 

Hu Yeqiu, a Shenzhen-based cultural studies scholar, was quoted by news site chinanews.com on Saturday as saying that in recent years foreign holidays are enthusiastically celebrated while domestic holidays are neglected, which can be seen as a lack of confidence in domestic culture.

"We need to pay more attention on how to revive our national festivals," said Hu.

Echoing Hu's suggestion, some places have already adopted measures to combat the influence of foreign holidays.

Schools in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, were forbidden from hosting Christmas-related events in 2014, in order to make students pay more attention to traditional Chinese festivals. Northwest University in Shaanxi Province also banned the Christmas celebration last year.

In contrast to Hu's opinion, Shi Anbin, associate dean of the School of Journalism and Communication at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times that instead of seeing this phenomenon as a lack of cultural confidence, the popularity of holidays like Halloween reflects the cultural globalization led by America and other Western countries.

"The popularity of Western holidays is now a common phenomenon in Asia. It is cultural hegemony. To break it, we need to spread traditional Chinese culture to young people through the media, particularly the mobile and social media. The ideal situation is that we can host co-cultural diversity," Shi said.

Gao Wei, a Beijing-based folk culture expert, said that the promotion done by businessmen for Halloween accelerated its development in China.

"The form of Halloween celebration is interesting and can involve many people in participation. In promoting traditional Chinese festivals, we should adopt the form of celebration with the times," he added.