Chinese New Year (Spring Festival)
Far and away the most important holiday in China is Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese New Year. It is celebrated on the first day of the First Moon of the lunar calendar. The corresponding date in the solar calendar varies from as early as January 21st to as late as February 19th.
Of all the traditional Chinese festivals, the new Year was perhaps the most elaborate, colorful, and important.
The preparations for the New Year begin the last few days of the last moon, when houses are thoroughly cleaned, debts repaid, hair cut and new clothes purchased. Houses are festooned with paper scrolls bearing auspicious antithetical couplet (as show on both side of the page) and in many homes, people burn incense at home and in the temples to pay respects to ancestors and ask the gods for good health in the coming months.
The New Year celebrations ended on the 15th of the First Moon with the Lantern Festival, which is also called Yuanxiao Festival. For some reason, there is often a bigger celebration in the rural areas, especially in the North.
On the evening of that day, people carried lanterns into the streets to take part in a great parade. Young men would highlight the parade with a dragon dance. The dragon was made of bamboo, silk, and paper, and might stretch for more than hundred feet in length. The bobbing and weaving of the dragon was an impressive sight, and formed a fitting finish to the New Year festival.
It is said that after the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368) destroyed the Jin (1115-1234), the band of the Yuan army celebrated the victory with gongs and drums. Since then beating gongs and drums has been a local tradition to express joy and happiness.
Dragon Boat Festival The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival is a significant holiday celebrated in China, and the one with the longest history. The Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated by boat races in the shape of dragons. Competing teams row their boats forward to a drumbeat racing to reach the finish end first.
The boat races during the Dragon Boat Festival are traditional customs to attempts to rescue the patriotic poet Chu Yuan. Chu Yuan drowned on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in 277 B.C. Chinese people throw Jiaozi (dumplings) and Zongzi, which is made of bamboo leaves filled with cooked rice into the river. Therefore the fish could eat the rice instead of the great poet. The dragon boat competition also symbolizes a real dragon fight in the heavens, to bring heavy rains. The festival took place after the spring planting, when people had time to relax and needed rain for their crops.
The celebration‘s is also a time for protection from evil and disease for the rest of the year. It is done so by different practices such as hanging healthy herbs on the front door, drinking nutritious concoctions, and displaying portraits of evil‘s nemesis, Chung Kuei. If one manages to stand an egg on it‘s end at exactly 12:00 noon, the following year will be a lucky one.
Mid-Autumn Festival Being celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month, Mid-Autumn Festival (Chung Chiu), also known as the Moon Cake Festival, probably is one of the most important festivals of the Chinese calendar. It dates back more than 2,000 years. And during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Chinese leaders took up the practice of watching the moon and this day is now set aside just for that purpose. Chinese people used to relate the vicissitudes of life to changes of the moon as it waxes and wanes and chose the evening of the 15th day of the eighth lunar month to hold a ceremony in praise of the moon.
On the day, Chinese families and friends get together to watch the moon and celebrate the festival. It has been noted that this is when the moon is at it‘s brightest and is the only day when the moon is considered to be perfectly round.
A special kind of sweet cake (yueh ping) prepared in the shape of the moon and filled with sesame seeds, ground lotus seeds and duck eggs is served as a traditional Chung Chiu delicacy. Nobody actually knows when the custom of eating moon cake of celebrate the Moon Festival began, but one relief traces its origin to the 14th century. The moon plays a significant part of this festival. The festival corresponds to harvest festival, is observed by Western cultures.
Chongyang Festival The Chongyang Festival, also known as the Double Ninth Festival is on the ninth day of the ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, in the golden season of autumn, at harvest -time. It is based on the theory of Yin and Yang, the two opposing principles in nature. Yin is feminine, negative principle, while Yang is masculine and positive. It is believed that all natural phenomena could be explained by this theory. Numbers are related to this theory: even numbers belong to Yin and odd numbers to Yang. The ninth day of the ninth lunar month is a day with two Yang numbers. So it is