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HomeModern Chinese EssaysFeng Jicai: Spring Transport Is a Cultural Phenomenon~ 《​春运是一种文化现象》(冯骥才)with English Translations

Feng Jicai: Spring Transport Is a Cultural Phenomenon~ 《​春运是一种文化现象》(冯骥才)with English Translations

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春运是一种文化现象

Spring Transport Is a Cultural Phenomenon

冯骥才

Feng Jicai

(孟庆升、刘士聪译)

 

如今,报知春节迫近的已经不再是腊八粥的香味,而是媒体上充满压力的热火朝天的春运了。每入腊月,春运有如飓风来临,很快就势头变猛,愈演愈烈;及至腊月底那几天,春运可谓排山倒海,不可阻遏。

Today, the advent of Spring Festival is no longer heralded by the aroma of laba porridge1, but by the hustle and bustle of Spring transport, or “Spring travel” from the passengers’ point of view, that gets thickly covered in the media. When the year enters its twelfth lunar month, “Spring transport” gets under way like a hurricane, gathering momentum each day. Toward the end of the month, it sweeps all over the country with an overwhelming force.

每每此时我都会想,世界上哪个国家有这种一年一度上亿人风风火火赶着回家过年的景象?

When this happens, I cannot help wondering if there is such a thing in any other country that, once a year, millions upon millions of people rush home for their New Year.

我们一直把春运当做一种客运交通的非常时期,并认为这是中国社会发展到现阶段千千万万农民进城打工带来的特殊的交通狂潮,春运的任务只是想方设法完成这种举世罕见的客运重负。

We look at “Spring transport” as a special periodof passenger transport, and think of it as a crazy traffic torrent resulting from the movement of hundreds of thousands of rural people into the cities for employment, a phenomenon of China, characteristic of its development at current stage. The object of “Spring transport” is, by resorting to all kinds of resources available, to fulfill the unparalleled heavy task of taking the passengers to their destinations.

可是,如果换一双文化的眼睛,就会发现,春运真正所做的是把千千万万在外工作的人千里迢迢送回他们各自的家乡,去完成中国人数千年来的人间梦想:团圆。

However, if we perceive it as a cultural phenomenon, we will see that what “Spring transport” does is to take the people working elsewhere back home for family reunion, a highly cherished dream of the Chinese people over history.

前些年在火车站碰到的一个情景使我至今难忘。大约是农历腊月二十九吧,一个又矮又瘦的中年男子赶火车回家。火车马上要开,车门已经关上。这男子急了,大概他怕大年夜赶不回去,就爬车窗。

I still remember an incident I witnessed at a railway station a few years ago. It was probably the day before the Eve of the Lunar New Year. A short, thin middle-aged man was hurrying to catch a train home. As it was about to leave, all its doors closed, the man became so desperate that he began to climb in at a window, fearing that if he missed it, he would not be able to get home in time for the New Year’s Eve.

按常规,月台上的值勤人员怕他出事,一定要拉他下来,车上的人一准也要把他往外推。但此刻忽然反过来,车上的人一起往窗里拉他,月台上值勤人员则用力把他推进车窗。那一刻,车上车下的人连同那中年男子都开心地笑,列车就载着这些笑脸轰隆隆开走了。为什么?因为人们有着共同的情怀——回家过年。

Usually, the platform workers on duty will pull him back for his safety, and the passengers in the car will push him out. But what happened was the reverse. The passengers inside began to drag him in, while the platform workers helped to push him in from outside. The small adventure evoked hearty laughs in and out of the car, including the adventurer himself. The train rumbled off, the car carrying a crowd of passengers with broad smiles on their faces. Why? It is the common sentimental desire – to go home for the Festival.

为此,每每望着春运期间人满为患的机场、车站和排成长龙的购票队伍,我都会为年文化在中国人身上这种刻骨铭心而感动。春运的人潮所洋溢的不正是年文化的精神核心——合家团聚吗?还有哪一种文化能够一年一度调动起如此动情的千军万马?能够凸显故乡和家庭如此强大的亲和力?

So, when I find myself in an overcrowded airport or a railway station with long queues scrambling for tickets, I am simply moved by the festival culture deeply engraved in the minds of the people. Isn’t the enthusiasm exhibited by the eddying crowds the core of the festive culture – family reunion? Is there any other culture that can set so many people on the move around the country once a year who demonstrated so strong a sense of affinity with their hometowns and families?

春运是超大规模的农民进城打工带来的,没错。但它又是近二十年出现的最独特的一种文化现象。因为民间文化是生活文化,它往往从生活的形态而非从纯文化的形态中表现出来,所以我们不会一下子认识到春运的文化内涵。

“Spring transport” is brought about by the people from the country for employment in the cities. There is no doubt about it. But it is also a unique cultural phenomenon that has emerged in the past two decades. As folk culture reflects people’s lives and is represented in the form of everyday life rather than of pure culture, we are not aware of its cultural connotations right away.

由此,我想到前些年每逢春节都会出现的一个话题,就是年的淡化。淡化的原因有二,一是生活方式的骤变,致使数千年里超稳定的生活中形成的严谨的年文化松解了,而一时又难以构成新的年文化体系,淡化的现象必然出现;

This reminds me of a topic coming up during Spring Festival in the past few years: the festive atmosphere of the Lunar New Year is thinning out. I think there are two possible causes for it. One is the change of life style, so fast that the well-fabricated festival culture, established on the basis of the super-stable life over the past several thousand years, is relaxing, and it is difficult to reconstruct a new one in a short time.

二是由于我们对年文化的无知,把传统习俗视为陈规旧习,认为可有可无,主动放弃,如燃放烟花炮竹和祭祖等等;甚至提倡休闲度假,或把春节变成西方的嘉年华。

The other is that, due to our misconceptions about the festival culture, we look at traditional customs as outmoded practices and cast them aside of our own accord, such as celebrations with fireworks and firecrackers, and sacrifices to ancestors, etc. Some people even advocate celebrating it as a leisure break, or simply transforming it into a western carnival.

失去了民俗的节日自然变得稀松平常。特别是有些民俗深刻嵌在人们的记忆里,一旦扔掉,无以填补。应该说,这种主动地去瓦解自己的文化才是最致命的。记得十多年前看过一篇文章说,未来的春节将成为五花八门的多元节日之一,并预言它将不再是主角。

A festival without folk customs would naturally becomeprosaic, especially the ones embedded in people’s memory. Once they are cast aside, you cannot find substitutes for them. I should like to say that the breaking up of our culture by our own hand is most fatal. I remember an article I read about a decade ago, which predicted that the Spring Festival would become one of the multifarious festivals, and it would cease to be the annual principal one in China.

可是就在这时,春运形成了。五星级酒店里、歌舞厅和酒吧里、高尔夫球场上可以不要春节,但人们心中“年的情结”依然执着,而且每逢春节就必然吐蕊开花——回家过年,亲人相聚,脱旧穿新,祈安道福,以心亲吻乡土里的根。

Just at this time, however, “Spring transport” came about. You can do without Spring Festival in five-star hotels, dance halls or bars, or on golf courses, but in the hearts of the people the festival complex still holds fast. When the Lunar New Year comes, the festival complex will bebudding and blooming. People will go home to celebrate it and reunite with their families. They will wear new clothes, pray for a peaceful happy life and kiss the earth of their hometown.

由于那时没有看到春运人潮中的文化心理与文化需求,也就想不到在社会转型时期怎样去保护传统,想不到在传统的年俗出现松解时应该做些什么。现在明白了,年在人们心里并没有淡化,淡化的只是传统的方式与形态。

Because we did not understand their cultural psychology and failed to meet their cultural needs, we had no idea how to preserve traditions when society was undergoing transformation and what to do when some traditional festival customs were thinning out. Now we understand that, in the hearts of the people, the Spring Festival is not thinning out; what is thinning out is the declining old ways and forms of celebrations.

1. laba porridge: a rice porridge with nuts and dried fruits, served on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month.

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