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How to Celebrate Chinese Farmers' Harvest Festival?
What is the significance of Chinese Farmers' Harvest Festival and how should it be celebrated?
 NO. 29 JULY 19, 2018

The Chinese Government recently created the Chinese Farmers' Harvest Festival, making it the first time that a national festival has been set up exclusively for farmers. The festival will be celebrated annually on the autumnal equinox beginning this year.

The action highlights the government's emphasis on agriculture and rural areas and its people, drawing the whole society's attention to Chinese farmers, who diligently work to prop up the country's social and economic development. The government has also expressed its determination to see a thriving agricultural industry, beautiful countryside and well-off farmers.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs announced there will be some nationwide activities, but most of the celebrations will take place at a local level derived from local customs. As for the significance of this festival and how it should be celebrated across the country, people from all walks of life have expressed their opinions.

Respect and caring

Zhang Fan (People's Daily): The creation of this festival reflects China's increasing emphasis on its traditional culture: the festival falling on the autumnal equinox shows respect for traditional 24 solar terms, which have been followed by Chinese people since about 2,200 years ago. Meanwhile, it mirrors Chinese people's knowledge of seasonal changes in nature and their willingness to adapt to natural rules and sustainable ecological views. Although climates and crops differ in various parts of China, most crops mature in autumn, and thus it's the best time to celebrate the harvest.

The festival will surely be accompanied by certain rituals which are especially important to China, an agricultural giant with thousands of years of history. A whole year's tillage of the land brings big harvests, filling farmers with joy.

This festival will not only celebrate harvests but it will also be a reminder that more attention needs to be paid to agriculture and farmers, as well as traditional culture. The decision to set up this festival is not only for nostalgia or revelry, but to better embrace the future.

Zhu Xuan (www.sohu.com): Agriculture is the foundation of China's national economy and the source of the Chinese population's food supply including grain, meat, vegetables and fruits. The establishment of this festival will undoubtedly attract more young people to the agricultural sector. Currently, as crucial as agriculture is to the national economy, most farmers engaging in agricultural production are aged between 40 and 70. China's agricultural sector is obviously understaffed. Thus, the festival, to some extent, should spur more young people to join this sector, injecting vitality into the country's agricultural industry.

Without farmers' hard work, social and economic development is impossible. The creation of the harvest festival is meeting Chinese farmers' expectations for the whole society's emphasis on agriculture.

Ding Jianting (Nanfang Daily): The Chinese Farmers' Harvest Festival is explicitly for farmers. Only when farmers participate widely in these activities and extract real joy from the festival will its purpose be realized. To this end, we need to pay attention to the differences in local cultures and harvests time to organize rich and colorful harvest activities instead of uniform ones. Festival celebrations must be done in ways that fully reflect rural features rather than imported urban perspectives. They should present a sense of ceremony, but at the same time be practical rather than wasteful. In a word, farmers are the major players of this festival, and therefore their participation is of great importance and their happiness is what we should aim for.

Rural/urban divide

Editorial (Beijing Youth Daily): Establishing Chinese Farmers' Harvest Festival is helpful to remind the whole society of the importance of farming and farmers' lives. It is necessary to make full use of preferential policies, capital and good environment to boost agricultural production and the rural economy, and to improve farmers' living conditions so that they can devote themselves to their agricultural work. The founding of this festival will create an atmosphere of respect and caring for farmers.

Although recent years have seen economic growth in most rural areas, a great increase in farmer's income and substantial improvement in the rural environment has not occurred. There is still a large gap between urban and rural areas, especially in terms of social security, medical care and insurance, as well as the overall social environment. This festival will help farmers gain access to more equitable political, economic and social status as well as welfare.

The festival will help to increase food output, encouraging farmers to grow more quality food, which is still the focus of China's agricultural work for today and the future. Although China's economy is stronger and it can import grain to feed its population, we cannot ignore domestic food production.

To set up the Chinese Farmers' Harvest Festival is also to remind governments and relevant authorities at various levels to always keep the harvest in mind, which not merely refers to the harvest from the land, but also the increase of people's incomes and social benefits. In fact, the farmers' festival should not be simplified as just another festival. It should, instead, fully showcase the government's and society's respect for and emphasis on agricultural development, as well as farmers' lives and farming as an occupation.

Zhi Xinjian (www.clssn.com): Chinese farmers have never had a festival established for them at the national level. People's reactions to the announcement of the festival differ, but their opinions can be divided into two groups. One group is concerned about whether the ordinary person will be given a holiday during this festival and whether tolls will be suspended on expressways; the other group consists of those who want to figure out how to really spend this festival meaningfully.

As for the first group, we should first look at how other professional festivals were set up. China already has Nurses' Day on May 12 , Doctors' Day on August 19, Teachers' Day on September 10, and Journalists' Day on November 8. These festivals have been celebrated for several years. On Nurses' Day, if nurses are not on shift, they can enjoy the holiday. But how about nurses on duty that day? Teachers' Day, in early September, falls on one of the busiest times for teachers, as it is the start of a new semester. Thus, it is impossible for teachers to have a holiday during their festival! In a word, holidays are somewhat impossible during these festivals.

However, that doesn't mean we will never have a holiday on Chinese Farmers' Harvest Festival. For example, this year's festival is on the Sunday that overlaps with the Mid-Autumn Festival. If you are a farmer, you are free to give yourself a holiday during the festival since a farmer's work schedule tends to be somewhat flexible. But if you are not a farmer, then whether there is a day off doesn't really concern you.

The most important thing is how to celebrate the festival. Farmers are the major players during this festival and relevant authorities are supposed to plan and promote harvest activities in a way that appeals to farmers' interest and draws them to participate. This will lead to their celebrating the festival with vigor and enthusiasm which will spill over into the coming years' celebrations. Apart from farmers, people from all walks of life can also take a short trip to different places and take part in harvest activities. They will not only experience and taste the joy of the harvest but can also buy green agricultural products online and offline to contribute to farmers' incomes.

Cheng Yingwen (www.ctnews.com.cn): For Chinese Farmers' Harvest Festival to stand out and become a brand festival, there must be support from the tourism market. Successful interactions between tourists and farmers are essential for a successful festival.

China is a large agricultural country with all kinds of agricultural products. The prospects of a farmers' festival being presented in different forms from north China to the south are great. Tourism will play an important part in this festival, attracting people from all areas to celebrations.

More and more Chinese people are becoming fond of traveling and sightseeing. With the development of urbanization, an increasing number of city dwellers are drawn to the countryside to experience rural culture and participate in agricultural work. In 2017, the urban population in China exceeded 800 million and domestic tourists amounted to over 500 million people, providing a broad market for the festival.

Chinese Farmers' Harvest Festival is a festival for farmers, but farmers are not the only participants in it. Only when tourists are attracted by the charm of harvest activities will the festival have lasting appeal.

Copyedited by Rebeca Toledo

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