Traditional Culture is Fading

Bingwei Li

In 2005, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) described the Dano-je Festival of Korea as an intangible cultural heritage property of humankind, but the Dano-je Festival has nearly 80% in common with the Chinese traditional Duanwu festi­val, which has many of the same customs, such as a dragon boat race and eating rice dumplings. Why, then, is the Chinese festival not also recognized by UNESCO? The reason is that Korean people strongly support their traditional festivals, while Chinese people, especially the younger generation, pay more attention to global festivals and do not attach importance to the traditional festivals. This is a problem in many countries around the world, and festivals are not the only aspect of traditional culture that is under threat. In a rapidly progressing society, we seem to have no room left to focus on traditional culture. Some people believe that the traditional culture will gradually be lost. In the atmosphere of intercultural communication, western culture, like a strong wind, blows into our country and begins to influence every aspect of our traditional culture, revealing the threat of the gradual loss of the traditional, Chinese culture left behind by our ancestors. So, what are the reasons that our traditional culture is fading? One reason is because of the great changes of Chinese society, mainly due to global­ization which transformed our ways of living and reconstructed our thinking patterns. Trains, planes, telephones, television, the internet, and other forms of modem transportation and communication reduce the time and distance that once kept the peo­ples of the world apart. Time and space no longer isolate or protect nations and groups from each other. All these changes are transformative processes that, in cases such as the rule of law and promotion of competition, conflict in some way with core aspects of traditional Chinese civilization that go back for thousands of years.

Another reason is that China is also experi­encing a globalization of tastes. The exposure of the Chinese population to foreign brands of goods has been incorporating them into the global culture. In this era of globalization, the free and constant flow of ideas, cultural values, ways of life, and materials and abstract goods are constantly blurring physical and mental borders. Globalization, having turned China into an international society, caused great social changes, including changes of social values, social at­titudes, social needs, social behaviors and even social patterns, which result in the loss of traditional Chi­nese values and cultural behaviors. Rich and colorful culture from foreign countries has distracted people's attention. Few people can resist the temptation of foreign culture.


A third reason that traditional culture is fad­ing is the growth of English language which brings American or British culture to China. In modem times, Chinese education places a strong emphasis on cultivating practical talents. In order to catch the trend of the world and become adapted to a global society, Chinese children start to learn English as well as its cultural roots at the same time they are learning their native language in kindergarten. From then on, through primary school, middle school, high school, college and afterward, their own language has been intermixed with English until the end of their lives. It seems that English is more important than their mother tongue. Because of this, quite a few people hold that Chinese traditional culture is of little use in modem society and it has failed to meet the needs of society's development. In spite of the importance of English, we should also strengthen the education of our own traditional culture and language, because it is our root and soul which makes all of China unite together to form our own cultural identity. However, China is not the only country confronted with this cultural issue. Other countries should also think about the problem of lost culture. In light of this deterioration of traditional culture, how can countries appeal to people to focus on their own traditional culture? First, we must strengthen our weak emphasis on traditional, cultural education. To do this, we need a large-scale education campaign, combined with various interesting traditional and cultural activities, in order to inform the public of the importance of the protection of traditional culture. However, the preservation, dissemination, and active use of traditional culture are well ensured in Western Europe. For example, traditional culture is taught in schools and also outside of schools in some special art courses in most countries.


Additionally, traditional culture needs to adjust to the rapid development and the grow­
ing demand of society. For instance, developing traditional food in a new way is more likely to meet the needs of modem people. Western fast food has developed rapidly around the world in recent years. Looking at their successful experience, we receive some hints on developing tradi­tional food in a new way. Intercultural management mode plays a crucial role in the success of fast food. It means the cultural background of people should be considered and respected. At the same time, different kinds and styles of food should be provided according to different people, different region and different cultural background. KFC and McDonald's successful experiences show that they have absorbed the different regions' cultural elements of showing respect, recog­nition, understanding, and assimilation, while maintaining the substance of the western culture of efficiency, freedom, equality and humanity. Though we need food every day we cannot have the same food every day. If traditional food wants to have its space for existence and development, changes are needed . Preserving and developing traditional culture has never been an easy task and it needs assistance from all over the country, even the whole world, including the government, media, communities, educational institutions, and individual efforts. Only in this way can we prevent the loss of traditional culture and hand down the traditional cultural heritages from generation to generation.