Chinese Festivals

Chinese people have many festivals but the well known ones are The Spring Festival (Chun Jie), The Lantern Festival (Yuan Xiao Jie), The Dragon Boat Festival (Duan Wu Jie) and The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie). Unlike the Westerners, Chinese people celebrate their festivals according to the Lunar Calendar (The Moon Cycle). The Spring Festival The Spring Festival or Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. During the Chinese New Year celebrations people wear red clothes, decorate with poems on red paper and give children “lucky money” in red envelopes. Red symbolizes fire, which according to the legend can drive away bad luck. The fireworks are rooted in a similar ancient custom. Long ago, people in China lit bamboo stalks, believing that the crackling flames would frighten evil spirits. Dragon dance was accompanied with the fire crackers. People paste red writing “Fu” on the doors upside down as the sound of “fu dao” which means luck comes into the house. The New Year Eve Dinner (nan ye fan) were a great celebration on the midnight. The foods contained fish “nian nian you yu” means to be prosperous, dumplinds “jiao zi” as in “jiao hao” friendly and peaceful or as “jiao zi” as in overlap time. Sometimes people have ‘nian gao’ which symbolizes ‘gao sheng’ as progress. The Lantern Festival The Lantern Festival (Yuan Xiao Jie) marked the end of the Chinese New Year which is on the fifteenth day of the month (Lunar calendar). Lanterns may be works of art, painted with birds, animals, flowers, zodiac signs, and scenes from legend of history. People hang glowing lanterns in temples, and carry lanterns to an evening parade under the light of the full moon. At this time people will try to solve the puzzles on the lanterns and eat yuanxiao or tangyuan (glutinous rice ball/small dumpling ball) and get all their families united in the joyful atmosphere. The legend of the origin of the Lantern Festival is to worship Taiyi, the God of Heaven in ancient times that controlled the destiny of the human world. The emperor would ask Taiyi to bring favorable weather and good health to him and his people. Another legend is to celebrate the birthday of a Taoist God Tianguan who is responsible for good fortune. The third story is to do with Buddhism where followers believe that the power of Buddha can dispel darkness and lanterns are displayed in temples, which is a house of Buddha and sacred scriptures were kept. The fillings inside the glutinous rice balls are either sweet or salty. Sweet fillings are made of sugar, walnuts, sesame, osmathus flowers, rose petals, sweetened tangerine peel, bean paste or jujube paste. The salty variety is filled with minced meat, vegetables or a mixture. The way to make yuanxiao are also varies between the northern and the southern China. However, they all try their best to improve the taste and quality of the dumplings to attract more customers.

The Dragon Boat Festival The Dragon Boat Festival (Duan Wu Jie) falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. The origin of this festival is to commemorate the Chinese poet Qu Yuan, who also a minister during the Warring States Period (475-221BC). When he knew the Zhou had been defeated by the Quin, he fell into despair and threw himself into the Milou River. He was so loved by the people, fishermen rushed out into long boats, beating drums to scare the fish away and throwing zong zi into the water to feed the fish so that they would not eat Qu Yuan’s body. In the modern Dragon Boat Festival, people would come to the river for dragon boat races. Annual races take place all over China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and other overseas Chinese communities. Zong zi is a glutinous rice ball filled with either egg, beans, dates, fruits, sweet potato, walnuts, mushrooms, meat or a combination of them, wrapped in corn leaves. They are generally steamed. In addition, people also wear talisman to fend off evil spirits. They may hang the picture of Zhong Kui, a guardian against evil spirits on the door of their homes as well. Adults may drink Xiong Huang Wine and children carry fragrant silk pouches all of which can prevent evil. The Moon Festival The Chinese Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is on the 15 th of the 8th lunar month. The legends of the Chinese Moon Festival were told from around 2170BC. There are a few versions. Chang Er is a wife of a tyrannical archer Hou Yi. She drank the elixir of life, which was stole by her husband from the Goddess to save the people from Earth. After drinking it, she found herself floating into the moon. Another story is Wu Kang a shiftless fellow who changed apprenticeships all the time and got banished by his master to the Moon Palace until he can chop down the magical tree. However, the tree can restore itself with each blow and thus he is up there chopping still. The legend of the Jade Rabbit that lived in the Moon Palace was a reward for his touched sacrifice to the fairy sages during their test to the animals. But the legend of Chang Er flew into the moon where she had lived ever since was most favorable. This festival is also for family reunions, eat moon cakes and sing moon songs while watching the full moon. The Moon Festival is also a romantic night without a silk of cloud and a little mild breeze from the sea. Lovers spend such a romantic night together tasting the delicious moon cake with some wine while watching the full moon. People eat moon cake to commemorate the early Sung dynasty (AD 960-1280), whom overthrew the Mongolian government that ruled China at that time. References