Unknowingly, it's already January, but sometimes I still feel like Christmas has just passed. This year's Christmas felt a bit strange to me, with no festive atmosphere filling the streets as in previous years. Instead, there was widespread criticism of foreign festivals like Christmas on the internet, and there was even news of a school banning the celebration of Christmas. The majority of those criticizing "foreign festivals" are older generations, and their reasons are surprisingly consistent: "Young people should pay more attention to traditional culture and not be brainwashed by the West." So today, I want to take this opportunity to share my opinion on the act of "banning foreign festivals."
##Why "Boycott Foreign Festivals"
To evaluate this issue, we need to start with parents, or more precisely, Chinese-style parents. Firstly, in the eyes of parents, celebrating "foreign festivals" seems to have no educational value and does not contribute to the so-called "Chinese traditional culture." Most young people indeed only take advantage of these foreign festivals as an opportunity to have fun, which is why parents label it as "detrimental to their future." Secondly, "foreign festivals" are often associated with consumerism, with most shopping festivals centered around these festivals (especially Valentine's Day). In order to cultivate their children's financial habits, parents start to resist these "sources of consumerism."
For leaders and most older generations, there is a unique cultural complex among Chinese people, which is the so-called "preserving purity" conservatism and isolationism. The methodology that arises from this worldview naturally only has one approach - resisting all "foreign things." However, the significance of doing so lies not only in preserving the so-called "Chinese orthodox culture" but also in having the right to lecture younger generations. In the past, when information was not readily available, most information was passed down orally, giving the older generation, who had the most experience, more social authority, including the right to showcase their "parental wisdom." But now, many pieces of information can be obtained by younger generations without relying on the lectures of their elders, including knowledge about foreign festivals. In order to regain the right to lecture, older generations naturally resist any new and unfamiliar things. The same logic applies to replacing "foreign festivals" with any other foreign novelty.
##Why Do Young People Like "Foreign Festivals"
The reasons why most older generations resist "foreign festivals" are often repetitive and can be summarized as follows: "Foreign festivals will corrupt the minds of young people with Western decadent thoughts and make them lose interest in Chinese culture, leading to peaceful evolution." But is this really the case? I think it's quite the opposite. Since 2020, more and more young people have started to break free from their blind faith in the Western world due to the pandemic and have become interested in Chinese culture. It can be said that the current generation of young people is the most patriotic. As for the claim that celebrating foreign festivals will lead to "peaceful evolution," it is simply ridiculous. Most young people are just following the trend and have no knowledge of the origin, development, or related stories of Christmas. So how can this lead to peaceful evolution?
As for the reasons why young people enjoy celebrating foreign festivals, I believe I have already made it clear: what young people lack the most nowadays is pure leisure time. Most traditional holidays and festivals have become more exhausting for young people because they often come with the burden of "promoting Chinese traditional holidays." They need to make sure everything is done according to proper etiquette, everything is auspicious, and they need to prepare various items for different occasions. What's even more dreadful is the family gathering after returning home. With the deepening influence of capitalism, family relationships are gradually being destroyed by money, and family gatherings that used to be warm and affectionate are becoming more like battlefields. The topics of conversation among relatives have shifted from personal matters to comparisons of children, wealth, and positions... How can young people withstand such stimulation?
The "foreign festivals" that those older generations oppose are precisely the last refuge for young people to purely enjoy themselves. Older generations attempt to regain a sense of presence in social relationships and instill the idea that "only by pleasing the elders and working hard can one succeed in society," and they try to prove that this has always been the case. However, has it always been the case? Young people are proving through their actions that they will not be influenced by the older generation's persuasion and will not sacrifice their youth for elusive goals. From this perspective, the pursuit of "foreign festivals" by young people is to break the old society constructed by the older generation for their own interests and to prove to them: "You are not essential to me."
##Boycotting Foreign Festivals is the New Era's Isolationism
Although the Xinhai Revolution took place over a hundred years ago, most older generations still haven't let go of their "braided hearts" and are still immersed in the dream of "China as the center of the world," believing that Chinese culture is the most perfect culture in the world, and all foreign cultures are backward and decadent. However, the facts have already proven that the dream of "China as the center of the world" cannot last, and the closed doors of the country will eventually be broken from the outside. Why do people nowadays always think that imported goods are good? Why can Hollywood movies, despite the many wrongdoings of the United States, still have a smooth path into the hearts of young people? Why have foreign games reached a level of realism while domestic games are still stuck in a repetitive cycle? It is because the "orthodox culture" in the eyes of certain people has been mercilessly abandoned by history. Culture is passed down through innovation, and without innovative culture, it becomes like stagnant water, seemingly grand but actually struggling to survive.
Older generations can resist foreign festivals, but they cannot resist the pursuit of excellent culture by young people. No matter how loudly the older generations shout, they cannot stop young people from voting with their wallets and taking practical actions. Despite claims that games lead to "deterioration," the online player base of major online games continues to grow. Despite claims that anime is "corrupting," the number of otaku staying up late to catch up on anime series continues to rise. Similarly, despite claims that Christmas leads to "peaceful evolution," the sales of Christmas hats, Christmas trees, and Christmas gifts continue to increase. Older generations may believe that they have preserved the "orthodox culture," but they fail to realize that their actions are actually self-restricting. One day, they will witness the "orthodox culture" they have preserved being swept into the historical garbage dump.
##What Do Young People Need?
If we want to create a culture that young people truly love, "blocking" is no longer effective. What do young people love the most now? It's authenticity, being genuine and not pretentious, and works that reflect real-life rather than empty discussions about orthodox and outdated accounts. The recent incident involving the "Lion Roar Boys" truly made me see this point - empty talk about "traditional culture" and "right and wrong" can no longer deceive young people. What young people love are works with depth, even if they are disguised as a pile of nonsense, even if they are covered in the guise of right and wrong, they cannot deceive the discerning eyes of the people.
Contemporary young people are the most patriotic generation and the generation that loves Chinese culture the most. However, what they love is not the one-sided preaching and recitation of the so-called "orthodox culture," but the spirit of struggle, creativity, unity, and dreams that reflect the spirit of the Chinese nation. Why was "The Wandering Earth" so popular and even hailed as "opening a new chapter in Chinese science fiction"? It is precisely because "The Wandering Earth," as a science fiction work, does not explicitly mention Chinese traditional culture but reflects the unity of the Chinese nation. Only cultural works with depth, substance, and intention, rather than empty discussions that abandon substance in the name of "orthodox culture," can attract the attention of young people and become cultural works that the people enjoy.
If "trade protectionism" ultimately harms both sides, then "cultural protectionism" can only harm itself. I hope that older generations can realize this sooner and actively engage with young people, understand what they truly need, and use their social resources to benefit society. However, at the same time, it will involve irreconcilable conflicts of interest that cannot be peacefully resolved. If it cannot be resolved peacefully, should we give up our right to enjoy excellent culture? The answer lies in the hearts of every young person.
Abandon illusions and prepare for struggle.