Some people complain that the New Year is getting less and less interesting, the New Year is not as lively as in memory, the seven-day long holiday is not exciting, and the ties between relatives and friends seem to have become less and less. Even if they get together, they mostly drink and play mahjong. It seems easier and easier to go home, but the mood is getting more and more insipid …
Some people attribute the weakening of the taste of the New Year to the improvement of living standards. They say that when people were poor in the past, the New Year meant they could eat many foods that they could not normally eat, put on new clothes that they could not normally wear, and set off fireworks that they could not normally set off. Therefore, the New Year is unforgettable. However, people’s living standards have improved now. Whether it’s food or clothes, New Year’s Day is no different from ordinary days, so New Year’s Day is less and less exciting.
Some people also attribute this phenomenon to the growth of age. They think that children will have a deeper feeling about the New Year and will be more easily infected by the atmosphere of the New Year. However, adults’ interest in lively things is weakening after the New Year, so the New Year is less attractive, and the New Year is mostly a childhood memory. Others believe that urbanization has led to a weakening of the taste of the New Year. Compared with the original rural life, the interpersonal relationship in urban life has become indifferent. Many people who live in buildings do not know their neighbors at all. This phenomenon is also spreading to the countryside. Not only is the taste of the New Year in the city lacking, but also the taste of the New Year in the countryside is getting weaker and weaker.
These are indeed the reasons for the weakening of the taste of the New Year, but besides these reasons, there is also a more important reason that there are fewer and fewer traditional ceremonies in the New Year, some of which have even completely disappeared. The traditional Spring Festival has many ceremonies, which make the Spring Festival have more cultural significance. For example, in the past, dumplings were eaten on New Year’s Eve, and deceased ancestors were ” invited” home to eat dumplings to show respect for their ancestors. Now, most families eat dumplings while watching TV on New Year’s Eve, and the cultural connotation in dumplings is much less. For example, in the past, it was customary to give red envelopes to the younger generation, but only after the younger generation salutes the elders collectively on the first day of the new year can they get red envelopes. Now most families just give red envelopes to the younger generation. Dumplings that have lost their cultural significance can only be compared in taste. Red envelopes that have lost their sense of ceremony can only be compared in size.
The traditional Spring Festival generally includes two periods. Before the first day of the New Year, it is mainly a variety of family activities, such as offering sacrifices to the God of the Kitchen, preparing various foods, welcoming the first person home, offering sacrifices to ancestors and family gatherings. After the first day of the new year, it was mainly a variety of social activities, such as visiting relatives, neighbors to pay New Year’s greetings, returning to one’s mother’s family, and finally the whole village or cross-village activities, including lion dance, walking on stilts, collective sacrifice, etc. Most of these activities have prescribed ceremonies and rich cultural connotations. Therefore, Spring Festival is not a day to rest or eat and drink, but a period of concentrated social activities.
I have visited a village in Jianghan Plain for the Spring Festival, the climax of which is the Lantern Festival. Each village around me will take turns to worship the same local temple. The 15th day of the first month is the worship day of the village I visited. when I got up early, the village lion dance team paid a new year’s greeting to each family, then invited the ancestral memorial tablet and lined up to worship the local temple. The whole process was lively, orderly and full of ritual feeling. Those who worked outside and did business would return to the village to take part in the activities of the day.
The traditional Spring Festival is not mainly about preparing food, eating and drinking, and giving red packets. It is a very social activity. The ceremony accompanying the activity is the key to decide whether the Spring Festival has a lunar new year flavor. Now the lunar new year flavor is weak. One of the reasons is that the cultural connotation reflected by the ceremony is less. For example, traditional New Year greetings have many rituals, which are opportunities for neighbors and relatives to communicate with each other and increase communication. Now New Year greetings are becoming more and more casual. Telephone New Year greetings, SMS New Year greetings and WeChat New Year greetings have neither the traditional sense of ceremony nor a new sense of ceremony. When you receive a New Year call, you may still feel something, but how much ritual can you feel when faced with a large number of similar New Year greetings, facial expressions and short videos?
Not only do Chinese New Year require necessary rituals, but also daily life cannot be separated from necessary rituals, because rituals are part of culture and endow daily life with cultural significance. Chinese traditional etiquette has rich cultural connotations, such as giving thanks to nature, respecting teachers and helping each other, which are all reflected by some rituals in daily life. With the development of society, the pace of life is accelerating, many rituals are simplified, and some rituals will also change. However, this does not mean that traditional rituals can be completely abandoned. On the contrary, it seems to highlight the necessity of preserving the sense of ritual in daily life.
In real society, rituals can play a role in education. For example, the etiquette of students to teachers and young people to elders can promote social respect for teachers. Ritual is also conducive to maintaining social order and resolving social conflicts. Some conflicts between neighbors and villagers can be resolved through simple etiquette. Ritual is also an important link to maintain people’s communication. Maintaining appropriate rituals in daily communication can convey more abundant information. For example, wearing formal clothes to attend a party can convey the message that participants attach great importance to the party.
More importantly, rituals give cultural meaning to everyday life. For example, tea ceremony is an activity with a strong sense of ceremony, which expresses the connotation of tea culture and turns our daily tea drinking into a cultural activity. Daily life should have an appropriate sense of ceremony, to make the Spring Festival more festive, also need to have an appropriate ceremony, not just eat and drink and play with mobile phones.