China celebrates various traditional, culturally essential festivals as the largest and one of the most culturally diverse countries worldwide. Many of these fascinating festivals are based on the traditional Lunar calendar and are an integral aspect of Chinese culture. This article will look at 8 Chinese Festivals celebrated in China today.
1 Chūn jié 春节 Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is perhaps the largest and most well-known of all Chinese festivals globally. In Chinese, Chinese New Year is described as Chūn jié 春节, which means Spring Festival.
Chūn jié 春节 celebrates the beginning of the new year on the traditional Chinese Lunar calendar. The festival is a time for families to reunite for a large family dinner while honoring one’s ancestors.
2 Yuánxiāo jié 元宵节 Lantern Festival
On the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, there is a festival called the Lantern Festival. It marks the end of the Spring Festival. The most essential and common traditions are enjoying lanterns, trying to figure out lanterns’ riddles, and eating tangyuan tāng yuán 汤圆 glutinous rice balls dessert soup. It is also common to watch wǔ shī 舞狮 lion dance – a traditional cultural activity.
3 Qīng míng jié 清明节 Qingming Festival – Clear and Bright Festival
This holiday is also called “Tomb Sweeping Day” because it is a time to remember the dead and sǎomù 扫墓 sweep the tombs. Qīng míng jié 清明节 happens every year on the first day of the 5th Chinese solar term on the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar (one of the 24 Chinese solar terms).
During the festival, families usually go to the tombs of their ancestors and make ritual offerings. This is done to honor the traditional respect the Chinese and many other Asian cultures have for their ancestors. China made it a national holiday in 2008.
4 Duān wǔ jié 端午节 Dragon Boat Festival
Duān wǔ jié 端午节 Dragon Boat Festival is another traditional Chinese holiday. During this holiday, Chinese people usually get together with family and friends. They have activities like eating zòng zi 粽子, a traditional rice dish made with glutinous rice, stuffed with different fillings – sweet or salty, wrapped in bamboo leaves, and racing dragon boats.
The Dragon Boat races are based on the story of Qū yuán 屈原, a minister in one of the Warring State governments who was sent away by government officials and killed himself in the Mìluō jiāng 汨罗江 Miluo River.
People who lived in China simultaneously as Qū yuán 屈原 were grateful for his skill and willingness to serve the country. Every year, they threw zòng zi 粽子 rice dumplings into the river, hoping that the fish would eat the rice dumplings instead of Qū yuán’s 屈原 body.
The races have been held for more than 2,500 years and have a long and rich history of ceremonies. People hold dragon boat races every year on the day he died to remember this.
The people tried to save Qū yuán 屈原, who was an honorable man. They searched desperately in their boats for Qūyuán 屈原, but they couldn’t save him. Every year, the Dragon Boat Festival is held to remember this attempt to save Qūyuán 屈原.
5 Guǐ jié 鬼节 the Ghost Festival
Guǐ jié 鬼节 Ghost Festival takes place on the 15th day of the seventh month in the Lunar Calendar. Several Asian countries celebrate the Ghost Festival every year, and the festival is also known as Zhōng yuán jié 中元节 or Yú lán jié 盂兰节 Yulan Festival. The festival has its roots in Buddhism and Taoism.
In some places in China, the 15th of the seventh lunar month is not the only important day. Instead, the whole Ghost Month, the seventh month, is important. People not only pray to the ghosts and worship them but also try not to break taboos to avoid bad luck.
6 Zhōng qiū jié 中秋节 Mid-Autumn Festival
Zhōng qiū jié 中秋节 Mid-Autumn Festival is the most important Chinese festival after Chinese New Year and has a history dating back over 3,000 years to when Chinese emperors worshipped the moon for bountiful harvests. In the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar, the festival takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month. This is when the moon is thought to be at its brightest.
During the festival, beautifully colored lanterns of all shapes and sizes can be seen with the symbols of prosperity and good fortune. The festival’s traditional food is yuè bǐng 月饼 mooncakes, a sweet pastry made of red bean paste.
7 Chóngyáng jié 重阳节 Double Ninth Festival
Chóng yáng jié 重阳节, or the Double Ninth Festival, takes place on the ninth day of the ninth month on the Chinese calendar. This day was once thought to have a lot of yáng 阳 positive spirit. Therefore, it was seen as a lucky day.
On this day, many Chinese people like to dēng gāo 登高 to climb mountains, drink jú huā jiǔ 菊花酒 chrysanthemum wine, eat chóng yáng gāo 重阳糕 Chongyang cakes, etc. Some Chinese people also use the day to pay their respects at the graves of family members.
8 Qī xī jié 七夕节 Qixi Festival or Chinese Valentine’s Day
Qī xī jié 七夕节, Chinese Valentine’s Day, is based on a love story about a zhī nǚ 织女 weaver girl and a niú láng 牛郎 cow herder. It is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. Some women wear traditional styles of clothes worn by Han Chinese called Hàn fú 汉服 and spend the day preparing gifts of tea, wine, flowers, and fruit to give to the weaver girl from the story so that she will grant them wisdom and help them get what they want.
Qī xī jié 七夕节 is also called shuāng qī 双七 Double Seventh Night because it happens on the seventh lunar month seventh night.
What is the story about zhī nǚ 织女 the weaver girl and niú láng 牛郎 the cow herder about? Niú láng 牛郎 was an orphan, a cow herder who his brother and sister-in-law raised. His sister-in-law did a lot to hurt him. Ultimately, they kicked him out and gave him an old cow as a present.
One day, the old cow suddenly spoke up and told niú láng 牛郎 that a fairy was coming and that she was the heavenly weaver. It said that if the fairy didn’t get back to heaven by morning, she would stay here.
From what the old cow said, niú láng 牛郎 saw the beautiful fairy and fell in love with her, and then they married. The Yù huáng dà dì 玉皇大帝 Emperor of heaven found out, and he was furious, so he sent minions to take the heavenly weaver back to heaven.
Niú láng 牛郎 was sad and decided to try to find them. But the Queen Mother of the West drew a Silver River (the Milky Way) in the sky and stopped him.
Niú láng 牛郎 and the zhī nǚ’s 织女 love moved the magpies, so the magpies built a bridge of magpies over the Silver River so that Niú láng 牛郎 and the zhī nǚ’s 织女 could meet. This sight also moved the Yù huáng dà dì 玉皇大帝 Emperor of Heaven, who permitted the couple to meet on the Magpie Bridge on the seventh day of the Chinese Lunar year’s seventh lunar month. This is where the Qī xī jié 七夕节 got its start.
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