“Festival”, or the ambiguity of the concepts of “Celebration” and “Celebration”?

In recent years, except for the last few years of the Covid pandemic, every New Year’s day to enter January, two days and months long, is a time for the press and public opinion. society In general, it boils down to the story of the festival.

People say, at most, in a voice of lamentation, sorrow, and indignation. That many festivals are becoming more and more distorted, becoming more and more distorted to the point where there is no longer the core spirit that it once was. That the festival is now set up just to show off, an opportunity for business to make a profit, not a revival of good old values. That now, so many people, from festival organizers to festival participants, lack the knowledge and sense of construction necessary for the festival to truly be an activity that preserves and promotes traditional culture. .

In short, as it is said, carnival is now largely grotesque, messy, expensive, and useless – not to mention its incitement to violence and savage compulsion – it reflects a social situation The society is not yet rich in economic terms, but clearly has a lot of time, lack of faith and very thin awareness.

Of course, I am talking about traditional festivals (and not the recent ones) and folk festivals (and not those organized by the State or by local authorities. position). Traditional Vietnamese folk festivals, as we know, are mostly village festivals and usually take place in the central space/sacred space of the village, the communal house. (However, there are also quite a few festivals that take place in other spaces, such as pagodas, shrines, temples, palaces, etc., anyway, these are spaces that are more or less religious and spiritual in nature).

In terms of time, folk traditional festivals are often held in the spring, right around the time of the farmers who take their jobs to sell their faces to the land and sell their backs to the gods to make rice seeds and potatoes. Such signs of space and time show that the festival is not a normal, everyday activity. It is not in the space/time coordinates that are filled with productive or daily labor jobs. It belongs to another space/time: the space/time of festival and festival. “Celebration” and “Celebration”. “Celebration” or “Celebration”.

It is precisely the people of the past who used, on a case-by-case basis, only one of these two words, to name the activities that people today are in the habit of combining (in a rather ambiguous way, not clear). why?) with the compound word “Festival”. The ancients said “the ceremony to open the seal of Tran Temple”, “the Phu Day festival”, “the stabbing / sacrifice ceremony”, “The Lim”, “Chairman ceremony”, “Church Perfume festival”, “anniversary of the Hung Temple ancestor”, “Tu Xa village festival” etc… Either “Rest” or “Hoi”. Clear, unambiguous, not “Festival” in an arbitrary and ambiguous spirit like now.

Multidimensional -


There’s no such thing as an antiquity, but in my opinion, it’s the old people who are the “reasonable side” in this story. It is not only a matter of “calling things by its right name” (as F. Engels once emphasized), but the important thing is that by calling that name – “Lieu” or “Hui” – the ancients have identify and inform us of what is the central part, the main content in the overall structure of the activity taking place, “festival” or “festival”?

Let’s go back to the “standard” model of traditional folk festivals – I use the word “festival” here as a way of identifying objects geometrically, not to name a specific activity. – We will see that there are two parts in the order of front and back: the Ceremony and the Festival.

Ceremony, roughly understood as a set of ritual sacrifices or imitations to honor the merits or extraordinary properties of the lord. (The gods here can be natural gods, they can be heroes fighting foreign invaders, people with meritorious services to build water villages, people who have contributed to cultural creation, can also be very ordinary people, even insignificant, but died unexpectedly on a day and now considered sacred).

The festival is followed by the Festival, a collection of folk games, competitions to show off their talents, and colorful and lively performances. If Mass can be classified into the category of dignified things, expressing people’s reverence before the gods, then the Association is the part that belongs to the category of communal boats, expressing vitality and the spirit of joy and enthusiasm. human life in the midst of mundane life.

In fact, in traditional Vietnamese folk festivals, the two parts, the Festival and the Festival, are often unbalanced, even though there are inseparable relationships between them.

Only a few festivals emphasize the Feast part, while the vast majority emphasize the Festival part – calling a certain festival a “Celebration” or a “Festival” is entirely dependent on this emphasis – and from the perspective of In the psychology of festival participants, it can be said that they often wish to quickly pass the ceremony to join the festival, to have fun, to be released and thereby to regenerate energy for the next life.

Multidimensional -


Clarifying this difference is by no means a useless definition, especially in the context of today’s social life, when many traditional folk festivals are restored after a seemingly long period of time. has been forgotten.

In my opinion, it is because of cramming all traditional folk festivals into a basket called “Festival” and without having to properly perceive it as a “Celebration” or a “Celebration” that cultural managers are confused. needy like a chicken with a hair, and the public opinion has just divided the years and splits so that they can quarrel with each other and with the festival (in general) in a way that is not necessarily satisfactory.

If it is a “Criterion” – within the limited space of an article, I will only mention the case of “Lête”, and “Hoi” will be saved for another time – should restore the entire part of the ritual sacrifice to honor and the imitation/repetition of the legends and acts of the lord, neither adding nor subtracting, nor distorting the original meaning of the Ceremony.

The opening ceremony of Tran Temple was strongly condemned by public opinion – and rightly condemned – precisely because the organizers violated this taboo. In the past, people opened and published Tran Temple seals to aim for good humanistic content. Now, people have created the business of stealing seals and selling Tran Temple seals, in order to profit from greed and ignorance into the glory of the glory of the crowd who are stomping on each other. The sale of seals and stealing of seals need to be abolished.

However, with some other ceremonies, such as the Buffalo Sacrifice Ceremony at Dong Cuong Temple (Yen Bai) or the Pig Slaughtering Ceremony of Nem Thuong Village (Bac Ninh) so what? The story is quite complicated when opponents of the “stab and slash” ritual have used the standards of modern civilized society as a weapon.

They believe that stabbing and slashing animals is a custom, a barbaric act, an incitement to violence and can stir up blood and murder for those attending the ceremony.

They demanded that the ritual should be minimized by somehow allowing the animal to be sacrificed… to die more gently, or if you still want to stab and slash, then do it in places hidden from the eyes of the public. Avoid negative visual effects.

In my opinion, here we have only one of two options: a) If the rituals of “stabbing and slashing” sacrificed animals in those ceremonies are a violation of the legal and ethical principles of modern society. , it is necessary to euthanize the ceremony itself. And b) If it is possible to keep the Mass, keep it in its integrity.

Because these “stabbing and slashing” rituals, despite the shocking visual impression they create on the observer, are symbols that have a deep and lasting connection to belief, to reverence. of man before the gods, thanks to which the ritual activity was formed.

Suppose, instead of “stabbing, slashing”, people electrify or drown the animal; instead of reincarnating them in front of the communal house, killing them in the back of the house, nothing else, that’s when the ceremony was distorted! (We must have not forgotten the lament of Confucius when someone suggested that he remove the goat from the sacrifice: you regret your goat, and I regret mine.)

Besides, this is my own opinion, it seems that the opponents of “stabbing and slashing” have, accidentally or intentionally, forgotten to ask if the host communities of the ceremony have “stabbed and slashed” the other. What do you think, do you think that the “stab and slash” ritual is barbaric and has the effect of inciting violence? That “forgetfulness”, can it be called cultural imposition, is the very hateful “self-centered” spirit?

In addition, can anyone guarantee that people will be more peaceful, will treat each other more kindly, society will be less violent if the “stabbing and slashing” ritual takes place only once a year? the other time was/was annihilated during the ceremony?

Forcing an ancient ritual to be held responsible for the vices of present life, it seems that no problem will be solved: Ceremonies are lost or distorted, and violence Society will still be there.

In such a context, the local government’s intervention in traditional folk festivals with administrative regulations, it seems, is due to the inability to withstand the pressure of public opinion, especially the noisy discussion of… Facebook community.

And so, ironically, the question of Facebooker, poet and translator Hong Thanh Quang: “Are festivals made for people to attend, or are festivals made for people to stand outside and judge?is a seemingly indifferent question, but it is worth it for those who are really interested in folk traditional festivals to stop and ponder.

*This article represents the personal views of the author.

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