Shanghai welcomes the world – but sticks to traditions

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The Independent Online

The World Expo may be in full swing but a new study has shown Shanghai's internationally savvy citizens are still sticklers when it comes to traditions.

China's largest city is now two months into Expo's ( six-month run and has been welcoming visitors from across the globe, keen to showcase both its new look - following a 2.5 billion yuan (310 million euros) makeover - and to strengthen the nation's will to show the outside world that it really is a modern city.

But a two-year study - undertaken by a group led by the Shanghai Spiritual Civilization Construction Committee and the Shanghai Folk Culture Association - has shown while Shanghai's residents are happy to welcome influence from the world outside, they are in no way being lured away from their own culture.

The study asked citizens to select their five favorite festivals from 15 Chinese and foreign events held annually and to then also explain their choices. On top came the Spring Festival (usually held in February), followed by the Mid-Autumn Festival (September or October), and then the Lantern (February), Dragon Boat (June) and New Year's Day (February) festivals.

The most popular foreign festival was Christmas Day (December 25), which polled sixth, just ahead of Tomb-sweeping Day (April). Valentine's Day (February 14) ranked eighth.

When asked why they put their own festivals first, 56.6 percent of respondents said it was simply because they were Chinese while 39.4 percent said the events gave them a fuller understanding of their own culture.

As far as western festivals go, most of those polled said they enjoyed them because they provided romance and a relaxed holiday atmosphere. Only 10 percent said they were interested in foreign festivals because of their customs or the culture.

Interestingly, given modern China's rapid growth and the growing influence of western culture on the nation's youth, foreign festivals ranked higher among those aged under 16 - with Christmas Day ranking third, behind the Spring and Mdi-Autumn festivals.