To begin with, as Jepson and Clarke pointed out, ‘Festivals and events are the lifeblood of society, they are inseparable and crucial to enhance and maintain community well-being or quality of life’ (Jepson and Clarke, n.d.). Festivals are the stage that inherit the national culture, place the emotions, and reflect the national identity (Levickait?, 2011). With the rich cultural diversity and periodicity, nationality and mass character, festivals are deeply integrated into the daily life and spiritual world of the people in the historical development of human (Levickait?, 2011). With the rapid development of festivals and events in cities throughout the country, numerous tourists are attracted to these festivals and events, which promoted local economic growth. Festivals and events held also caused the concern of all sectors from society, so it is necessary to carefully design in line with the local characteristics of local tourism festivals planning. As festivals can bring tremendous cultural benefits and profound impact, all countries and destinations in the world are deeply interested in and highly valued by them. As Prentice and Andersen pointed out, the festival’s strong appeal can be achieved in a short period of time. As a result, the festivals have a wide range of effects and influences on the social, economic, cultural, and environmental aspects of host cities. Holding important festivals is one of the important ways to reverse unfavorable fame and eliminate negative images (Prentice and Andersen, 2003). Successful festivals can make a huge economic, social and cultural value. This article has chosen three different aspects, those are platform for cultural exchange, rejuvenation or preservation of values in society, and enhance and maintain community well-being or quality of life, to explore how festivals can gain its value through these aspects.
How Festival creates values
1) Platform for cultural exchange
According to Pearce, cultural exchange often occurs between two or more distinct origins (Pearce, 1995). As a platform for cultural exchange, festival has made a significant role in culture promotion and international relationship building. In recent years, with the trend of globalization, the internationalization of cultural exchanges has increased. Festivals and cultures have begun to go abroad and integrate with the cultural customs of different cities or countries. Festival activities comprehensively display the local history and culture, it is a kind of tool for local residents to relax and enjoy. For tourists, it is an irreplaceable way to experience different cultures through festivals (Mahadevan, 2016). Tourists will be able to promote the experience and culture to distinct regions, so festivals and tourism become important carriers of cultural exchanges. Furthermore, with the influence of internationalism, local people also enjoy celebrating festivals those are from an entirely different culture. For example, nowadays it’s a trend that Asian countries celebrate Christmas. And western countries also held activities during Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). This is because of the impact by a dramatically increasing globalization and technology. People are able to complete information transmission via media around the world. Local people can learn and experience a different culture in the domestic region. Therefore, media and technology are an important tool in promoting festivals and exchanging culture. However, due to some specific reasons, festivals sometimes can lead to negative influence on culture exchange. For instance, when festival organizers or local governments do not organize or regulate the festival activities well, the festival events may fail. This will cause the other countries to have a negative impression of the culture and country where the festival is held, which lead to a negative effect on cultural exchange. Therefore, for the purpose of building favorable cultural image, a well-organized festival must be paid with highly attention.
2) Rejuvenation/preservation of values in society
To be simplified, social value is to meet the needs of society or others, through the practical activities to create contribution and responsibility (Deery and Jago, 2010). The social value of festivals is an important aspect of building relationship with society and others. Firstly? festival as a spiritual heritage, it is a continuation of history (Ayazlar and Ayazlar, 2015). Since ancient times, people were celebrating the same festivals, and the rituals and values contained in these festivals are inherited. Every festival has its origin, some come from a hero in history, and some represent a crucial day in the history of this country. Different people come together because of the festival, not only for enjoying and relaxing, but also because of their own culture and national pride. So, festivals create and improve the social cohesion for a country or a culture. Moreover, festival is a cultural symbol (Ayazlar and Ayazlar, 2015). The story behind every festival can be either beautiful or sad. But behind these stories festivals reflect the values and ethics of a country and a society. In the process of the festivals being inherited and celebrated, it taught generations after generation how to be thankful and polite. Therefore, in society, festivals are also an important tool of education of values and ethics. To be noticed that in the development of the festival, the original intention of some festivals is gradually forgotten by people. People just remember to enjoy and relax but forget the original intention of a festival is to celebrate the year’s efforts and harvest and should continue to work hard in the next year. Imagine in the future, how these festivals will become? Thus, in the festival’s heritage, the original purpose and value of festivals must not be forgotten.
3) enhance/maintain community well-being or quality of life
To start out, quality of life of a country can be measured by various levels, such as GDP and the Engel’s Coefficient. As an important part of people’s life, festivals can also reflect people’s quality of life (Kruger and Petzer, 2008). In the past, when the quality of life of the people was low, people could enjoy some of the expensive delicacies and drinks only on the day of certain festivals. For example, in ancient times, Chinese people could eat dumplings only during the Spring Festival. But now, with the improvement of the quality of life, people can eat these delicacies almost at any time. In addition, excepting reflect the quality of life, the holding of festivals or events can also improve people’s quality of life (Kruger and Petzer, 2008). Festivals allow people to relax after busy. In different festivals and events, people can build better social relationships, enrich the personal spiritual world, and have the material enjoyment. Sometimes?during the festivals and events, people reached a higher stage of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Some people find a sense of belonging, and some even achieve self-esteem and self-fulfillment. For example, some charitable donation events can make people feel self-actualization. Therefore, these aspects of festivals can effectively help the society to improve community well-being. Additionally, the organizer of the festival should also pay attention to how to better enhance people’s quality of life while organizing a festival or event, which can bring bigger contribution to the society.
To conclude, firstly, with the development of globalization, international cultural exchanges have become more frequent. As an important carrier of cultural exchange, festivals bear the important responsibility of safeguarding cultural images and propagating cultural features. More is that festival tourism has also become an important passage in cultural exchange. Therefore, festival organizers also need to pay attention to better protecting and promoting local culture than only paying attention to festival’s contents. Secondly, festivals have an essential role in rejuvenation and preservation of social value. As spiritual heritage and cultural symbols, festivals bear the responsibility of promoting social cohesion and social value education. So the original intention of the festival cannot be forgotten. Thirdly, while reflecting the quality of people’s lives, the festival also improves people’s living quality in terms of spirit, materiality, and culture at the same time. To be summarized, festival has a huge cultural, social and life value, thus it is worth calling it ‘lifeblood of the society’. In the future, how to organize a festival so it can contribute the most value for the society can be considered one of the major problems.