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Characterized by diverse styles and themes, traditional Chinese festivals are an important part of Chinese history and culture, both ancient and modern. A close relationship exists between many of the traditional festivals and chronology, mathematics, the Chinese Calendar and the twenty-four solar terms. Many of the customs connected with the traditional festivals have links with religious devotions, superstitions and myths. The form which most of the festivals take today was established around the time of the Han Dynasty (206BC - 220) and for many years, various eminent poets have written countless masterpieces describing the festivals and are still recited regularly today.

Almost every festival has its own unique origins and customs which reflect the traditional practices and morality of the whole Chinese nation and its people. The grandest and most popular festivals are the Spring Festival, the Lantern Festival, the Qingming Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival, the Double Seventh Festival, the Mid-autumn Festival, the Chongyang Festival, and the Laba Festival.

 

Spring Festival

The most important festival in China is the Spring Festival. The Spring Festival marks the beginning of the Chinese lunar New Year, so the first meal is rather important. People usually eat jiaozi or dumplings shaped like a crescent* moon on that special day. As for recreational activities during the Sping Festival, the Dragon Dance and Lion Dance are traditionally performed.

Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival is on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month. It is closely related to Spring Festival. It is traditionally a time for family reunions. The displaying of lanterns is a big event on that day, and another important part of the Festival is eating small dumpling balls made of glutinous* rice flour. We call these balls yuanxiao.

Qingming

Qingming, meaning clear and bright, is the day for mourning the dead. It falls in early April every year. It corresponds with the onset* of warmer weather, the start of spring plowing, and of family outings. Springtime, especially in North China, is the windy season, just right for flying kites. It is not surprising that kite flying is very popular during the Qingming season.

Duanwu Festival

The Duanwu Festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar*. For thousands of years, Duanwu has been marked by eating zongzi and racing dragon boats. Zongzi is a kind of pyramid-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice and wrapped in bamboo leaves. Duanwu is also known as the Dragon Boat Festival, because dragon boat races are held during the festival, especially in southern China.

Mid-Autumn Festival

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 round and symbolizes reunion, the Mid-Autumn Festival is also known as the festival of reunion.

People in different parts of China celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in different ways. But one traditional custom has remained and is shared by all Chinese. This is eating the festive specialty: mooncakes —— cakes shaped like the moon.

Chongyang Festival

The number "nine" belongs to Yang in the theory of Yin and Yang. The ninth day of the ninth lunar month is a day when the two Yang numbers meet. So it is called Chongyang.

This festival is usually perfect for outdoor activities. And it is a special day for people to pay their respects to the elderly. It has also been declared China's day for the elderly.

Timetable of Chinese Traditional Festivals (2008-2015)
Spring Festival Lantern Festival Qingming Festival Dragon Boat Double Seventh Mid-autumn Festival Chongyang Festival Laba Festival
2008 Feb. 7 Feb. 21 Apr. 4 Jun. 8 Aug. 7 Sep. 14 Oct. 7 Jan. 3, 2009
2009 Jan.26 Feb.9 Apr. 4 May 28 Aug. 26 Oct. 3 Oct. 26 Jan. 22, 2010
2010 Feb. 14 Feb.28 Apr. 5 Jun. 16 Aug. 16 Sep. 22 Oct. 16 Jan. 11, 2011
2011 Feb. 3 Feb. 17 Apr. 5 Jun. 6 Aug. 6 Sep. 12 Oct. 5 Jan. 1, 2012
2012 Jan. 23 Feb. 6 Apr. 4 Jun. 23 Aug. 23 Sep. 30 Oct. 23 Jan. 19, 2013
2013 Feb. 10 Feb. 24 Apr. 4 Jun. 12 Aug. 13 Sep. 19 Oct. 13 Jan. 8, 2014
2014 Jan. 31 Feb. 14 Apr. 5 Jun. 2 Aug. 2 Sep. 8 Oct. 2 Jan. 27, 2015
2015 Feb. 19 Mar. 5 Apr. 5 Jun. 20 Aug. 20 Sep. 27 Oct. 21 Jan. 17, 2016

Chinese Festivals Chinese festivals are colorful and noisy affairs, often with thousands of people turning out to join in the celebration. Fireworks, festive feasting, lion and fire dragon dancers, incense smoke, Chinese opera, Bun towers, Chinese new year market, Dragon boat racing and parades come together in a variety of combinations to create a uniquely festive atmosphere seen nowhere else in the world.

Delicacy Festivals and Celebrations China boasts many picturesque locations. Different places are characterized by diverse places of interest. In order to make these scenic locations better known to people and publicize Chinese culture in general, the governments in different regions organize festivals which utilize local tourist resorts. Because these festivals are closely linked with the famous local scenic places and are full of amusements and activities which give visitors an insight into local customs in a relaxed atmosphere, they are known as tourist festivals.

 Major Festivals of Ethnic Minorities in ChinaAs China is a vast land and has many ethnic groups, different ethnic groups have different festivals in different places. Even on the same festival, they follow different customs. Here we introduce some important and commonly celebrated festivals. In fact, these traditional festivals have absorbed nourishment from different regions and various ethnic cultures and are a precious cultural heritage for the whole Chinese nation and its guests.