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Chinese Festivals


China is a kingdom of festivals. Diversities of festivals in different nationalities enrich and colorize the life of Chinese people. It is surely one important composition of Chinese long history. Since these customs and festivals, people can clearly see the vivid image of ancient Chinese life. Till Han Dynasty, the main festivals in China were fixed. In Tang Dynasty, more and more festivals appeared and the representative festivals became more matured and popular in public. As the popularity of these traditional festivals, more and more literary masterpieces narrated or illustrated them. Some of the classic letters connected with these festivals largely expand the influence of these festivals. Currently a lot of exotic or international festivals enter China and also become a part of Chinese modern festivals.

 

Chinese Traditional Festivals

FestivalDateBrief Description
Chinese New Year Eve
(除夕 chu xi)
Last day of the lunar yearThe family is expected to unite at a dinner called “nianyefan”, meaning the new year’s eve dinner
Spring Festival
(春节 chun jie)
1st day of 1st lunar month, often in late Jan. or early Feb.The most important festival for the Chinese. Often celebrated for two weeks until the Lantern Festival. Time to visit family relatives
Lantern Festival
(元宵节 yuan xiao jie)
15th day of 1st lunar monthLantern parade and lion dance celebrating the first full moon. Eating tangyuan. This day is also the last day of new year celebration.
Zhonghe Festival (中和节zhong he jie), or Blue Dragon Festival(青龙节 qing long jie)2nd day of 2nd lunar monthEat Chinese pancakes (Chun bing, 春饼) and noodles, clean the house. Also known as Dragon Raising its Head. Time for people to have a hair-cut, which could not be done during the first lunar month.
Shangsi Festival (上巳节shang si jie)3rd day of 3rd lunar monthTime for people to go for an outing by the water where they would enjoy themselves at a picnic, and to rid themselves of any bad luck. Also a day for invoking cleansing rituals for disease-prevention purposes
Tomb Sweeping Day
(清明节 qing ming jie)
At the jie qi known as qing ming, 104 days after winter solstice (around April 5)Visit, clean, and make offerings at ancestral gravesites;
Spring outings
Dragon Boat Festival
(端午节 duan wu jie)
5th day of 5th lunar monthDragon boat race, eat dumplings wrapped in lotus leaves Zongzi. Commemorating the ancient poet Qu Yuan; drink yellow rice wine containing realgar (xionghuang).
Chinese Valentine's Day
(七夕 qi xi)
7th day of 7th lunar monthChinese Valentine‘s Day;
Associated with the folk tale of “Niulang and Zhinu
Ghost Festival
(中元节 zhong yuan jie)
15th day of 7th lunar monthBurn fake paper money and make offerings to ancestors and the dead to appease them, so they will not come and trouble the living.
Mid-Autumn Festival
(中秋节 zhong qiu jie)
15th day of 8th lunar monthEat mooncake, family union meal, related to the legend of Chang E, the Chinese goddess of moon
Double-Nine Festival
(重阳节 chong yang jie)
9th day of 9th lunar monthAutumn outing and mountain climbing, some Chinese also visit the graves of their ancestors to pay their respects.
Spirit Festival/ Water Lantern Festival
(下元节xia yuan jie)
15th day of the 10th lunar monthSet flower shaped lanterns adrift in a stream or river at sunset, give offerings to deceased whose wandering spirits/ghosts may return at night to visit.
Winter Solstice Festival
(冬至dong zhi)
21st or 22nd of DecemberEat dumplings or noodles. also named "Chinese Thanksgiving"
La-ba Festival
(腊八节la ba jie)
8th day of 12th lunar monthThe day the Buddha attained enlightenment. People usually eat Laba congee, which is made of mixed grains and fruits. Some Buddhist temples would also distribute the Laba congee to the public for free.
Water-Splashing Festival of Dai Nationality
(泼水节 po shui jie)
around 13~16 AprilPeople pour water at one another as part of the cleansing ritual to welcome the new year of Dai ethnic group
Naadam Festival of Mongolian Nationality
(纳达木 na da mu)
Around mid summerlocally termed "eriin gurvan naadam" (эрийн гурван наадам) "the three games of men": Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery
Torch Festival of Yi Nationality
(火把节 huo ba jie)
the 24th or 25th day of the sixth month of the Yi calendar, corresponding to August in the Gregorian calendarCommemorates the legendary wrestler Atilaba, who drove away a plague of locusts using torches made from pine trees
Danu Festival of Yao Nationality25th day of 5th lunar monthKnown as the Ancestral Mother Festival or the Yao New Year. not celebrated annually; Yao families will clean up their houses, prepare sticky rice cakes and rice wine and slaughter pigs and lambs to entertain their relatives and friends with lavish food and dishes. On the festival day, they will gather at the village common ground, singing, dancing, beating copper drums, blowing suona horn (a woodwind instrument), performing martial arts and playing ball games. copper drum dance,
March Street Festival of Bai Nationality
(三月街sanyuejie)
lasts about a week and start on 15th day of 3rd lunar monthCelebrating reunion of people of Bai Nationality once a year, Dali, Yunnan
People all take the best handicraft products and the local specialties to sell in the street fair, put on performances, attend the horse-racing
Gexu (歌圩节) Festival of Zhuang Nationality3rd day of 3rd lunar monthSinging matches in the field; young men and women are dressed in their best.
Losaroften falls on the same day as the Chinese New Year (sometimes with one day or occasionally with one lunar month difference)Tibetan New Year
Tibetan Ongkor Festivalin each August when all crops are about to ripenAn old festival in farming areas of Tibet held according to Tibetan calendar when all crops are waiting for harvest. shows people's wish for a good harvest, but also a good time for them to rest.
 

 

 

 

Chinese Modern Festivals

 
FestivalDateRemarks
New YearJan.1 
International Women’s DayMar. 8 
Arbor (Tree-Planting) DayMar. 12 
International Labor Day or May DayMay 1 
China’s Youth DayMay 4To commemorate the contribution of Chinese youths in the May 4th Movement, 1919.
International Children’s DayJune 1 
Teacher’s DaySep.10Usually right in the second week of a autumn school semester
National DayOct.1Celebrate the founding of People’s Republic of China in 1949.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


 

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