China may include some traditional festivals, such as Tomb-Sweeping Day, Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival, as part of its official holidays, sources said.[Agencies]
China may include some traditional festivals, such as Tomb-Sweeping Day, Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival, as part of its official holidays, sources said.
The Chinese government has formed a preliminary plan on the new legal holiday arrangement and the plan will be released "in the near future". After that, public opinion will be sought on the Internet.
As an ancient country with a civilized history of more than 5,000 years, some traditional festivals represent part of the China's cultural heritage. However, current legal holiday arrangements only include the Spring Festival, traditionally held in January or February.
Cai Jiming, a Tsinghua University professor and a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said traditional festivals as legal holidays would help preserve the folk customs.
"The nation's traditional culture will find ways to develop," he said.
Feng Jicai, a renowned Chinese writer who champions folk customs, said the cultural meaning of Chinese traditional festivals should be restored and emphasized, especially with increasing globalization.
Chinese people currently have 10 days of legal holidays. Three days each are given for the May Day, National Day and Spring Festival breaks, with one day for New Year's Day.
The weekends on one side of the first three holidays are designated as two working days, and people enjoy two days off on the working days, making the holidays seven consecutive days. Millions of Chinese travel during the holidays, thus earning them the moniker of "Golden Week".
Regarded as one of the most important days on the Chinese calendar, Tomb-Sweeping, or the Qingming Festival, which usually occurs on April 4 or 5, was established by a Chinese emperor in memory of a loyal official who sacrificed himself to save the monarch's life more than 2,500 years ago.
The day gradually became a traditional time for paying homage to departed ancestors.
The Dragon Boat Festival has been celebrated for thousands of years to commemorate Qu Yuan, a great patriotic poet who lived in the state of Chu during the Warring States period (475 B.C. to 221 B.C.). He drowned himself in the Miluo River in today's Hunan Province in 278 B.C., on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, hoping his death would alert the king to revitalize the kingdom.
The tradition arose that on the day of his death dragon boat races would be held and people should eat "zongzi," glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves.
The Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the eighth month on the lunar calendar, is considered an occasion for a re-union of family members and loved ones. On the day, they would eat moon cakes and light lanterns while enjoying the full moon - an auspicious symbol of abundance, harmony and luck.
The festival was flavored by the legend of Chang'e, a "lonely fairy on the moon." According to legend, she was the beautiful wife of Hou Yi, a hero who shot down nine suns that scorched the earth. He was slain by his apprentice Feng Meng. Threatened by the murderer, Chang'e drank an elixir and "flew to the moon."
China introduced the "Golden week" holidays in 1999 in a bid to boost domestic consumption.
It was reported that tourism revenue had increased from 14.1 billion yuan (1.76 billion U.S. dollars) during the 1999 National Day holiday to 64.2 billion yuan during the recent Golden Week in October.
Statistics revealed that in 2001 alone, tourist numbers reach 780 million, much higher than the 1999 figure of 240 million. In addition, outbound Chinese tourism rose to 12.13 million in 2001, a huge jump from 3 million in the early 1990s.
But after several years of experience and complaints about overcrowding, poor service, a scarcity of hotel rooms and damage to scenic spots, especially historic sites, during the break, the Golden Week breaks have spurred debate over the merits of the week-long holiday concept.
Last year, Tsinghua professor Cai proposed shortening the National Day and May Day holidays from three days to one day and distributing the days to celebrate four traditional festivals - the Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Day, Tomb-Sweeping Day and New Year's Eve.
Other scholars have also reiterated their belief that the important traditional Chinese festivals should be made public holidays.
"The current holiday system does not accord with the long-standing customs of Chinese people," said Chinese Folklore Society President Liu Quili.
Huang Tao, an associate professor at the People's University of China in Beijing, said the most effective measures to protect cultural festivals were to make traditional festivals legal holidays to enable more people to understand the importance of the tradition.
On Monday, the Chinese government released draft regulations on paid vacations for soliciting public opinion. The regulations are believed to further protect a worker's right to rest.
China has not fully established a paid vacation system until now. In 1991, a circular from the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council officially said employees were entitled to vacation of up to two weeks.
However, in practice, some employees had not enjoyed paid vacations for various reasons and were not compensated as detailed measures were not in place.
Thus, some of the public is worried that if the Golden Week holidays are adjusted or decreased, they would find it more difficult to take compulsory paid vacation.
The draft regulations stipulate that legal holidays and weekends will not be included as paid vacation.
（英语点津 Celene 编辑）