1 April 2010, Great Barrington, MA—In order to build on the new spirit of cooperation evident in a meeting on Monday between President Barack Obama and the new Chinese ambassador Zhang Yesui, China will celebrate the 4th of July, American Independence Day, this year. The 4th of July is celebrated with parades, barbeques, and fireworks, which makes it particularly appropriate for adoption in China—more appropriate, in fact, than the already popular Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
Marketing professionals confirm that young Chinese people enjoy celebrating Western holidays because they seem more “modern” than traditional Chinese holidays like Qi Qiao Jie (the Chinese “lovers’ day”). Western holidays are more commercialized (some were even created in order to sell products), and this fact makes them popular with businesses trying to boost domestic consumption. The practice of “Valentine,” for example, has become popular in China and generates revenues for a wide range of businesses, including florists, chocolate makers, jewelers, and restaurants.
The 4th of July is, indeed, a traditional holiday in the United States, going back over 200 years, but from the Chinese point of view 1776 is recent history. The 4th of July has excellent commercial aspects: it requires fireworks, and will provide a welcome summer boost to the fireworks industry, and also provides an opportunity to promote popular Western foods, like ice cream, and novelty items, like hotdogs. It is thought that the United States Embassy in Beijing may offer recipes for strawberry shortcake and potato salad—the latter of particular importance, given that China is now the world’s largest producer and consumer of potatoes.
In early February, Valentine Day red and pink hearts can be seen all over China, and Christmas trees and Santa Claus are familiar symbols in China. While it is unlikely that red-white-and-blue bunting, typical for 4th of July decorations, will ever catch on in China, many retailers hope that they can bring Chinese ingenuity and keen commercial spirit and make another Western holiday a source of festivity and prosperity. It remains to be seen whether the song “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy” will become widely known, but some social commentators believe that its lively lyrics and e may find a place in Chinese popular culture.