Culture Article

Together Celebrate Happy-New-Year for International Understanding under Multiple Divides

Together Celebrate Happy-New-Year for International Understanding under Multiple Divides

Multiple divides are the common challenge confronting global governance. Uniting, therefore, must be a solution for rebuilding trust and reigniting hope. In the context, mankind needs the strategies and policies featuring extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits. However, the efforts and supports to multilateralism, and to global progress are not without challenge and conflict. To promote these instruments, principles and norms, and seek cooperation from around the world, international understanding holds the key. Given these developments, it is time to help the world to find out solutions from heritage of human civilization. The traditional festivals symbolizing harmony, peace, best wishes, and good luck—the shared values that people in every country, area and region lastingly inherit, cherish, and represent can exert greater influence. For example, the celebration of the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival which has been officially listed as a UN floating holiday as from 2024. From an international understanding outlook, there are three dimensions essential to bringing the humanistic qualities of traditional festivals to the whole world.

At the ground level of core message, take more efforts to promote globally the shared values of harmony and inclusion in integration crystalized from the traditional festivals. Divides and conflicts are inseparable. Unfortunately, international cooperation is in jeopardy now. ‘UN’s SDG Report 2023’ proves the destructive impacts of the cascading and intersecting global crises and conflicts on the achievement of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) announced by the UN in the year of 2015. Take Goal 1, “Ending poverty in all its forms and dimensions” as an example, according to the UN statistics, an additional 75 million to 95 million people living in extreme poverty in 2022. Extreme poverty means income below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day. What is more, inflation hikes even per meal. For instance, a big mac costs $3.99 (price on February 4, 2024).

The traditional festivals have the soft power by nature to bridge the large divides that the world faces. In the celebration of the year of dragon in and out China, the themes all refer to heritage, harmony, peace, public benefits, and most importantly, the new dimensions relating sustainable development, such as green development. It is the spirit of “He” in the Chinese civilization that nurture the norms. In sum, the shared values of traditional festivals can contribute important and incisive conceptual dimensions to a deeper understanding of common vision, and to a more collective global governance. It is the outstanding universal values that the humanistic qualities of traditional festivals can well define.

At the intermediate level of agenda-setting, facilitate the traditional festivals to play a role of platform in protection and promotion of cultural dialogue and exchange. It is self-evident that connection is meaningful. Rather, what is it that we have found that the traditional festivals really contributed? The data-backed answer to this question is YES. Farming culture from which traditional festivals worldwide commonly are stemmed is the bit of typical evidence. As Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (UNFAO)’s illustration of the values of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems, farming feeds the soil, safeguard biodiversity, supply food, and carry human wisdom and memory. Therefore, farming culture permits, and represents the complementary use of natural resources, and human interaction in a challenging environment. At this most general level, farming culture becomes the power to unite people together. For instance, in the US city of Atlanta, urban farming helps build peace in local community. Apart from the benefits including community gardens, farmers’ market, and fresh, sustainable fruit and vegetables, the locals have discovered a new-found passion and pastime in these activities.

At the ultimate level of cognitive empathy, raise awareness of the values of traditional festivals in understanding of global common agenda. The UN in its “Our Common Agenda: Report of the Secretary-General” made it clear that when the world is facing multiple divides, uniting is extremely significant for mankind to the achieve the common goals of sustainable development. In a world that is ever-changing, one thing that never changes is people’s need for peace and prosperity. The traditional festivals over a span of time, all around the world, provide an exceptional testimony to the well-being of communities residing in a sustainable, just and peaceful world. Put it simply, the values of traditional festivals identify, though in different cultural contexts historically and globally, the international importance of cooperation and collaboration in fulfillment of common agenda. The parallel development of the festival cultures is also one of the principal dynamic forces of joint work for a shared future.

The multiple divides confronting the world have made us more conscious of the necessity of making sure global governance looks not just different, but better than it does today. In many ways, there is a need to re-contextualize global governance in the framework of outstanding universal values, above all, the call for one earth, one family, and one future. The many benefits of traditional festivals leave people with the fact that the attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain the traditional festivals can inspire and help us to rise to today’s global challenges. The values of traditional festivals serve to align the world’s focus on what is important. International community should work together to exchange good practices, and implement celebrations of traditional festivals to strengthen international understanding.

In conclusion, Harvard professor Joseph Nye, one of the foremost scholars of international politics in the world, stated, “converting resources into realized power in the sense of obtaining desired outcomes requires well-designed strategies and skillful leadership” in his “Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics”. In the midst of many global challenges, how can we commit to working as an association for a better future that is truly for everyone? Looking back to the traditional festivals in human civilization in order to look ahead. For this, wish you good health, happiness and prosperity in this Spring Festival.

Liu Chen is the professor of Public Administration and Cultural Studies. Harvard Kennedy School Mason Fellow, Postdoctoral Fellow, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard. Her research focuses on policy, practice, leadership, and culture and international cooperation.


Liu Chen / School of English and International Studies, Beijing Foreign Studies UniversityKailun Sui

Other posts by Liu Chen / School of English and International Studies, Beijing Foreign Studies University
Contact author
blog comments powered by Disqus

Contact author