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China Festivals and Public Holidays
Spring Festival is the most important festival in China. The celebration marks the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year. It is usually celebrated in late January or early February. 'Jiaozi' or dumplings shaped like crescent moons, is the favorite food on that special day. The Dragon Dance and Lion Dance are traditionally performed.
Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month. It is closely related to Spring Festival. This is the first time people see the full moon in the New Year. It is traditionally a time for family reunions. It is customary to eat special sweet dumplings called Yuanxiao, round balls made of glutinous rice flour stuffed with sugar fillings. Beautiful lanterns are displayed. This custom of enjoying lanterns dates back to the firstcentury, and has continued to be popular throughout China up to the present day. On this festive night many cities hold lantern fairs to display exotic and sometimes weirdly shaped, multi-colored lanterns. In rural areas local people gather together and enjoy themselves as spectators and participants setting off fireworks, walking on stilts, performing with dragon lanterns, folk dancing and playing on swings.
Qingming, meaning pure and bright, is the day set aside for people to offer sacrifices to their ancestors. Nowadays it is customary to visit the tombs of the martyrs of the revolution to pay respects. Qingming falls in early April every year, when the weather has turned warmer and the earth is green. Friends like to go together to the outskirts of the city to walk in the green grass, fly kites and appreciate the beauty of spring. That is why Qingming is sometimes called the 'Stepping on Greenery Festival'.
Duanwu or Dragon Boat Festival
Dragon Boat Festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. It is believed that the festival originated to celebrate the memory of the ancient patriotic poet Qu Yuan. Qu Yuan, a native of the State of Chu during the Warring States Period, repeatedly offered his king proposals aimed at forestalling political corruption. Subsequently, slandered by treacherous court officials, he was sent into exile by the same king he had tried to help. In 278 B.C., the capital of the State of Chu was lost to its enemy the State of Qin, and Qu Yuan drowned himself in despair on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.
For thousands of years, the Duanwu Festival has been characterized by dragon boat racing, and eating Zongzi, a kind of pyramid-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves.
One of the most important Chinese festivals is the Mid-Autumn Festival. It falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. Because the full moon is especially bright and symbolizes reunion, the Mid-Autumn Festival is also known as the festival of reunion. People in different parts of China have different ways of celebrating, but one traditional custom, common to all Chinese, is that whole families sit together beneath the moonlight, eating moon-shaped cakes and appreciating the beauty of the fully rounded moon.
The Chongyang Festival is known as Double Nine Day in China. According to Chinese folklore, nine is the number belonging to the positive principle 'yang,' the word is also homophonous with the word for a 'long time.' This number has come to represent longevity. Therefore, it is a special day for people to pay their respects to the elderly and a day for the elderly to enjoy themselves. This festival is usually perfect for outdoor activities. Many people go hiking and climbing in the country on that day.
National Day Chongyang Festival
October 1st is the National Day of the People's Republic of China. There are various celebrations throughout the whole country on that day, such as the National Day evening performance, the National Day fireworks show, the National Day parade and the National Day flag raising ceremony.
Ghost Festival, similar to Halloween in the West, is called Half July in Chinese. It is a popular occasion celebrated throughout China on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month. Historically families offer sacrifices of the newly harvested grain to departed ancestors. Ghost Festival is supposedly a time when the ghosts come back to earth to feast on the fare offered by the living. In some areas of China, visitors can see small roadside fires where believers burn paper money and other offerings to appease the restless spirits who have temporarily been released from the underworld.
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