Chinese Traditional Festivals

Chinese traditional festivals, with their various forms and rich contents, is an important part of the long history and culture of the Chinese nation. The formation of traditional festivals is a process of long-term accumulation of history and culture of a nation or a country. The ancient traditional festivals of the Chinese nation cover the natural and cultural contents such as primitive beliefs, sacrificial culture, astronomy and calendar, etc., and contain profound and rich connotations. 

Chinese traditional festivals are mainly the Spring Festival (the first day of the first lunar month), the Lantern Festival (the 15th of the first lunar month), the Qingming festival (Tomb-sweeping Day, usually around April.5th), the Dragon Boat Festival (the fifth day of the fifth lunar month), Chinese Valentine's Day (lunar July 7th), the Mid-Autumn Festival(lunar August 15th), the Double Ninth Festival (September 9th on lunar calendar), the Winter Solstice Day(Gregorian calendar on December 21st ~ 23rd), Chinese New Year's Eve(the last day at the end of the year).

In addition, some of the 24 solar terms are both natural and traditional festivals, such as Qingming Festival and Winter Solstice. These festivals have both natural and cultural connotations. They are both natural solar terms and traditional festivals. In addition, all ethnic minorities in China have their own traditional festivals, such as the Dai Water-Sprinkling Festival, the Mongolian Nadam Festival, the Yi Torch Festival, the Yao Danu Festival, the Bai March Street, the Zhuang Singing Festival, the Tibetan's New Year and Shoton Festival, and the Miao Sister Meal Festival.

Spring Festival is known as the Chinese New Year, which is usually called the Chinese Lunar New Year. It is the most important traditional festivals for Chinese people although many Southeast Asian countries celebrate it as well. The literal translation of "Spring Festival" comes so because it marks the beginning of joyous spring and the end of tough winter. The whole festival lasts for about 22 days, from the twenty-third day of the Lunar December to the Lantern Festival which is on the fifteenth day of the next Lunar January. Among all these jubilant days, Chinese New Year's Eve is most valued by Chinese people as it is a day for Chinese families gathering together and having annual reunion dinner.

Spring Festival is widely acknowledged as the longest and most important festivity in Chinese Lunar Calendar. The origin of the Chinese New Year could be dated back to several centuries ago. According to the survived tales and legends, the origin of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called Nian. Nian would come annually on the first day of the New Year to eat livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially lovely children. In order to protect themselves, villagers somehow put something for eating in front of the doors thinking that Nian would take away the food instead of their relatives. It was believed that if beast Nian ate the prepared food to full, it wouldn’t attack people any more. Once, villagers found that Nian was scared away by a little child wearing red clothes. Hence every time when the New Year was about to come, people would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors so as to repel Nian. Later, firecrackers was produced and used as a method to frighten away the horrible beast. Nian was eventually captured by Hongjun Laozu, an ancient Taoist monk. From then on, Nian never came again but the traditions have remained, gradually becoming conventionalized customs of Chinese New Year celebration.

When Spring Festival is coming, nearly most Chinese people would like to spend a lot of money to buy presents for family, decoration for house, food and clothing to greet the approaching year. It is also a tradition that every family thoroughly cleans the house to sweep away any ill-fortune in the hope of getting good luck. Windows and doors shall be decorated with red paper-cutting and couplets with popular themes of "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity". On the Eve of Chinese New Year, each family gathers to enjoy a feast during which all members review their last year and then look into the coming year. As the most grand supper within a year, food on the New Year Eve Dinner always include chickens, ducks, suckling pigs and sweet delicacies. Wine is absolutely essential as many families open their best stored wine to have a good drink. Before the arrival of the next day, Chinese people are always willing to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone as the New Year tradition. On the morning of the next day that is called the Lunar New Year’s Day, children will greet their elders by wishing them a healthy and happy new year. The elders shall give their juniors red packets with money enclosed as New Year gifts.

Spring Festival

Lantern Festival, also known as the Yuanxiao Festival or Shangyuan Festival in China, is a festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in Chinese Lunar Calendar. As an official end-up of the Chinese New Year celebrations, it has occupied an important position in Chinese people minds. The name of this festival came from one of the traditions that during the Lantern Festival, children go out at night to temples carrying paper lanterns and solve riddles on the lanterns. In ancient times, only the emperor and noblemen had large ornate lanterns, while now, lanterns are designed to many shapes like flowers and animals that increase fun for people.

The first month of the Chinese calendar is called Yuan Month, and Xiao means night in Chinese. On the fifteenth day of each lunar month, there is usually a full moon hanging in the sky. Within one lunar year, people regard the Lantern Festival as the first day to see a full moon. Therefore, this day is also called Yuan Xiao Festival in China. According to Chinese tradition, dragon dance and lion dance with a happy parade is absolutely necessary at the beginning of a new year. In the evening, hundreds of colorful lanterns should be hung out for appreciation. At this time, people try to solve puzzles on lanterns, eat Yuanxiao (a glutinous rice ball, also known as Tangyuan) and enjoy a family reunion. It is a festal day about celebrating New Year and cultivating positive relationships between families as well as friends.

Lantern Festival

Losar, the Tibetan New Year, is the celebration of Losar predates Buddhism in Tibet and can be traced back to the pre-Buddhist Bon period. In this early Bon tradition, every winter a spiritual ceremony was held, in which people were offered large quantities of incense to appease the local spirits, deities and “protectors”. The festival is said to have begun when an old woman named Belma introduced the measurement of time based on the phases of the moon. This festival took place during the flowering of the apricot trees during Lhokha Yarla Shampo’s region in autumn, and it may have been the first celebration of what has become the traditional farmers' festival. It was during this period that the arts of cultivation, irrigation, refining iron from ore and building bridges were first introduced in Tibet. The ceremonies which were instituted to celebrate these new capabilities can be recognized as precursors of the Losar festival. Later when the rudiments of astrology, based on the five elements, were introduced in Tibet, this farmer's festival became what we now call the Losar or Tibetan New Year.

The Tibetan lunar calendar is made up of twelve lunar months and the Losar begins on the first day of the first month. In monasteries, the celebrations for the Losar begin on the twenty-ninth day of the twelfth month. On that day the monasteries do a special kind of ritual and begin preparations for the Losar celebrations. Guthuk is a special noodle made for the celebrations as a folk custom. It is made of nine different ingredients including dried cheese and various grains. Also, dough balls are given out with various ingredients hidden in them such as chilies, salt, wool, rice and coal. The ingredients one finds hidden in the dough ball are supposed to be a lighthearted comment on one's character. For example, if a person finds chilies in their dough, it means they are talkative. If white-colored ingredient such as salt, wool or rice is inside the dough, it is considered to be a good sign.

Losar, the Tibetan New Year

Monlam, or the Great Prayer Festival celebrated by Tibetan people, is held from the 4th to the 11th day of the 1st month on Tibetan lunar calendar. This is the greatest religious activity in Tibet that instituted by Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug sect. “Monlam” means “prayer” in Tibetan, in monasteries a great Buddhist service is held and “cham” (Buddhist dances) are performed. According to the legend, in the first month of the year, Buddha conquered or converted six holy men of false religions. On this day, monasteries will conduct scripture chanting, show the giant Buddha Thangka, and perform mask Tibetan opera. Pilgrims will gather together to enjoy the shows as well as participate in the worshiping in the nearby monasteries. Among them, some even prostrate step by step all the way to Lhasa. Lamas from the Three Great Monastery of Tibet assemble in Jokhang, reciting scriptures, praying to Shakyamuni`s image as if it is were the living Buddha and attending an examination for the Gexi degree.

Monlam, or the Great Prayer Festival

Butter Lantern Festival, also called Chunga Choepa or Butter Lamp Festival, falls on the 15th day of the first Tibetan month. This festival was started by Tsong kha-pa in the first Great Prayer Festival in the year of 1409. In his dream, all beautiful flowers and trees appeared in front of Buddha. He commissioned monks to make flowers and trees with colored butter. This tradition has been maintained until today.

Butter Lantern Festival is the last high tide of celebrations of the Tibetan New Year. On this day, the Barkhor Square in Lhasa turns into a grand exhibition site for huge “Tormas” sculpted from butter in the form of various auspicious symbols and lamps. During the daytime, people go to pray in temples and monasteries while at night there is a lantern show. Various lanterns with butter sculptures shaped in the image of deities, animals, plants, and human figures are displayed, attracting people from the neighboring areas to appreciate them. Some of the lanterns are as high as two or three-storey buildings. Large scale of butter sculptures about stories of Buddha as well as Princess Wencheng who brought Buddhism into Tibet area will be exhibited. The displays last all night until dawn. Usually there is a puppet show held as well and the event will last for several days.

Butter Lantern Festival is the happiest festival in Tibet. The busiest place during the butter lantern festival is the around the Barkhor Street and in front of Jokhang Temple, where many lanterns are displayed. At night, the lights lanterns make the whole street as bright as in the daytime. People sing and dance in great happiness while enjoying the lanterns.

Butter Lantern Festival

Tomb Sweeping Festival, or the “Chinese Memorial Day”, is called Qingming Festival in China, with the other names such as Pure Brightness Festival, Clear Bright Festival and Ancestors Day. Tomb Sweeping Day is a traditional Chinese festival on the 15th day counted from the Spring Equinox (or the104th day after the winter solstice), usually occurring on around April 4th or 5th of the solar calendar. Astronomically Qingming is a solar term, indicating the suitable time for people to go out and enjoy the greenery of springtime. Since in ancient times people tended to come to the graves of their departed relatives and sweep dusts, this tradition has been kept hence the name of Tomb Sweeping Day. Pronounced to Qingming Jie in Chinese, Tomb Sweeping Day and Clear Bright Festival are the most common English translations of Qingming Festival.

The history of Qingming could be dated back to more than 2,500 years ago. Wealthy citizens in ancient China were reportedly holding too many extravagant and ostentatiously expensive ceremonies in honor of their ancestors. Emperor Xuanzong of Tang Dynasty, seeking to curb this practice, declared that respects could be formally paid at ancestors' graves only on the solar term Qingming. From that time on, the observance of Qingming played a firm role in Chinese culture and continued to modern time.

Today, Tomb Sweeping Day has become an opportunity for Chinese people to have an outing in spring as well as visit the graves or burial grounds of their ancestors. Celebrants pray before the graves of their ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, joss paper accessories. Chinese people believe in using these sacrificial offering to remember and honour their ancestors at grave sites.  Furthermore, most people would make libations to the ancestors. Some people carry willow branches with them on Tomb Sweeping Festival, or put willow branches on their gates or front doors. They believe that willow branches help ward off the evil spirit that wanders on Qingming.
Qingming has significance in the Chinese tea culture since this specific day divides the fresh green teas by their picking dates. Green teas made from leaves picked before the Tomb Sweeping Festival is given the prestigious “pre-Qingming” designation which commands a much higher price tag. These teas are prized for having much lighter and subtler aromas than those picked after this festival.  Another well-known item about Tomb Sweeping Festival is the painting “Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival” drawn by Zhang Zeduan in Song Dynasty. It is praised as one of the top ten legendary paintings of China, portraying the scene along the river of Kaifeng City, the capital of Song Dynasty. Preserved in the Palace Museum (the Forbidden City), this national historical relic perfectly shows the social life of people in Song Dynasty during the Tomb Sweeping Day.

Qingming Festival, or the “Tomb Sweeping Festival Day”

Monlam, or the Great Prayer Festival celebrated by Tibetan people, is held from the 4th to the 11th day of the 1st month on Tibetan lunar calendar. This is the greatest religious activity in Tibet that instituted by Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug sect. “Monlam” means “prayer” in Tibetan, in monasteries a great Buddhist service is held and “cham” (Buddhist dances) are performed. According to the legend, in the first month of the year, Buddha conquered or converted six holy men of false religions. On this day, monasteries will conduct scripture chanting, show the giant Buddha Thangka, and perform mask Tibetan opera. Pilgrims will gather together to enjoy the shows as well as participate in the worshiping in the nearby monasteries. Among them, some even prostrate step by step all the way to Lhasa. Lamas from the Three Great Monastery of Tibet assemble in Jokhang, reciting scriptures, praying to Shakyamuni`s image as if it is were the living Buddha and attending an examination for the Gexi degree.

Third Month Street Fair

Sisters’ Meal Festival is sometimes called Sisters’ Rice Festival or Eat Sisters’ Rice Festival celebrated by Miao Minority, living in Guizhou Province. As a celebration of spring and of love, its origin is from a legend that there was an old couple who had three daughters. One day while the beautiful girls were playing on the riverside, the young girls felt lovesick. Zhang Guolao, a bearded God who carried a bamboo tubular drum, possessed the spirits of the girls, telling them to prepare five-colored rolls of glutinous rice filled with shrimp, fish and other special things. When young men came down from the mountain, the beautiful girls presented the rice to them. In this way, the young girls found their marriage partners. This tradition has been passed down so it remains. Each year during the third lunar month in Shidong, Taijiang County in southeast Guizhou Province, girls flock to the mountains to collect wild flowers and berries to dye the glutinous rice known as Sister’s Rice. Glutinous rice is dyed in several colors and formed into balls. Each girl prepares her rice with a symbol then wraps it in a handkerchief or put inside small baskets.
Now the Sisters’ Rice Festival has become a grand party for Miao people. The grandmothers, mothers and other female relatives polish and shine the collection of silver neck rings, bracelets, anklets, earrings, hair pins and combs, rings and pendants, phoenix crowns and headpieces that the young single girls will wear. And then almost every family prepares special meals. They will share traditional foods such as colored rice cooked in bamboo tubes, homemade rice wine, which is similarly practiced among different Miao tribes. Some of the dyed rice is molded into balls that hold “treasure” inside. These rice balls are presented to the young men who come to visit, and each treasure has a different meaning. Pine needles mean “You should give me embroidery needles”, and corn silk is a suggestion of fine yarn. The festival days are always filled with dancing, singing, eating, drinking lots of rice wine, watching bull fights and cockfights. Sometimes there are horse-riding shows that villagers from many remote areas gather to enjoy the happy spring time.

Sisters’ Meal Festival

Water-Sprinkling Festival, also called the Water Festival, is the New Year's celebrations of Tai Minority. As the most important festival for Tai people who mainly live in Xishuangbanna area of Yunnan Province, it is called the “Water Festival” by westerners because people pour water at one another as part of the cleansing ritual to welcome the New Year. The act of pouring water is a show of blessings and good wishes in Tai people minds. It is believed that on this festival, everything old must be thrown away, or it will bring the owner bad luck. And water can clean any unclear thing, including bad fortune. Traditional dance, singing and cultural shows are performed together during the festival. Religious activities in the tradition of Theravada Buddhism are also carried out at both Pagoda and Monastery. Young people visit elders to pay respect during this period.

Water-Sprinkling Festival

Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival or the Double Fifth, is a traditional and statutory festival in China. Like all other traditional festivals, Duanwu is reckoned in accordance with the lunar calendar. For this reason, Duanwu, which is the fifth day of the fifth moon, drifts from year to year on the solar calendar. The moon is considered to be at its strongest around the time of summer solstice when the daylight in the northern hemisphere is the longest. The sun (representing Yang, one of the two opposing principles in nature), like the dragon, traditionally represents masculine energy, whereas the moon (representing Yin, the other one of the two opposing principles in nature), like the phoenix (or firebird), traditionally represents feminine energy. Summer solstice is considered the peak annual moment of male energy while the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, represents the peak annual moment of feminine energy. The masculine image of the dragon is thus naturally associated with Duanwu.

The Duanwu Festival is believed to have originated in ancient China. A number of theories exist about its origins as a number of folk traditions and explanatory myths are connected to its observance. Today the best known of these relates to the suicide in 278 BC of Qu Yuan, poet and statesman of the Chu Kingdom during the Warring States period. Qu Yuan jumped into Miluo River and died for his motherland. Strong fellows gathered and rode boats to search for Qu Yuan, which was believed to be an origin of Dragon Boat race on this day. Failing to find Qu Yuan, People then threw packed rice into the river, in the hope of fish eating the rice but not Qu Yuan’s body. Nowadays the Dragon Boat Festival is also celebrated as the "Poets' Day," due to Qu Yuan's status as China's first poet of well renown.

Three of the most widespread activities for Duanwu Festival are preparing and eating Zongzi (a kind of traditional Chinese rice-pudding), drinking realgar wine, and racing dragon boats. Other common activities include hanging up icons of Zhong Kui (a mythic guardian figure), hanging mugwort and calamus and wearing perfumed medicine bags. All of these activities, together with the drinking of realgar wine, were regarded by the ancient Chinese as effective in preventing diseases or evils and promoting health and well-being.

Dragon Boat Festival

Nadam is a traditional activity of the Mongolian ethnic group in China. It is derived from Mongol ancestors' custom of riding and shooting and wrestling which was formed in the nomadic life. The word "Nadam" in Mongolian is a joint term of Mongolian-type wrestling, riding and shooting. Today the Nadam Fair falls on the fourth day of the sixth lunar month (between July and August in solar calendar) when the livestock is fat and strong, and people of any ethnic groups and religions are allowed to participate in.

The Nadam Fair can be traced back to the initial stage of the Mongol Empire. In order to pray for and celebrate a good harvest as well as inspect the army, Genghis Khan convened annual gathering of clan leaders and conducted contest of shooting, horse racing or wrestling. By the late Qing Dynasty, Nadam had evolved into a recreational activity which was regularly held by the government. This festival has been handed down till now, with that held on Xilinguole Grassland being the most famous.

During Nadam Fair, herdsmen will, after dressing themselves up, head for the meeting place on the Mongolian grassland on horseback or in carriage. Men and women, old or young, dress up and participate, either watching from cars or on horses. Five-colored ribbons are inlaid on the shoulder and front of the gown with red and green silk bands at the waist. They wear boots and usually have a sword with a scabbard, snuffbox and sickle at the waist. A great deal of tents are scattered in the meeting place where the contest of polo and horsemanship as well as track and field are held in the daytime other than the traditional events (riding, shooting and wrestling). Meanwhile, material exchanging meetings and trades are held here. As a traditional festival of the Mongolian ethnic group, Nadam is also a large entertainment gathering for celebrating the harvest. The Nadam is also known as a fair of agricultural and livestock goods. Apart from the industry and farming sideline products, there are also other local special goods, such as beef and mutton, fumed food, cheese, dried cheese, cream, milk curd and yoghurt. Ghee tea, barbecued whole sheep and baked full mutton are also supplied at the tea booths and restaurants. Since the staple Mongolian diet generally consists of cereals and vegetables, the Nadam provides them with a chance to enjoy Mongolian traditional rich dishes. When the night falls, rich and colorful theatrical performances are given, bustling with noise and excitement. Folk-style dancing and singing is performed during the Nadam as Mongolians are good at dancing and singing. The Fuxin Mongolian Autonomous County is reputed as the Land of Folk Songs. There are hundreds of singers, who are not only able to sing but also compose. Entertainment programs include comic dialogues, antistrophic singing and performances by horse-head lute, Yataghan Dance Wine Cup Dance, etc.

Nadam is a perfect combination of strength and beauty. Take wrestling as an example, there are over 30 skills and more than 300 actions regarding the Mongolian-type wrestling which provides that the touchdown of any part above the knee is regarded to be defeated. Prior to the contest, two competitors will troll challenge song for three times, and then enter the arena, presenting the dance movement of flying tercel. After that, they will salute to each other and begin to contest. The winner will cast fruits and milk products to the audience so that they can share his victory. Female wrestling contest has appeared in recent years, at the same time, Mongolian-type wrestling has been listed as a national contest event.

Nadam

Torch Festival, or Fire Festival, is one of the main holidays of the Yi people of southwest China, and is also celebrated by other ethnic groups in this region. It is celebrated on the 24th or 26th day of the sixth month of the Yi calendar, corresponding to August in the solar calendar. It commemorates the legendary wrestler Atilaba, who drove away a plague of locusts using torches made from pine trees. Torch Festival held in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture is known as one of China’s top 10 festivities for ethnic minority nationalities and also rated as the national intangible cultural heritage. During the Torch Festival, there’ll be arrangement of folk singing and dancing performances, Yi nationality beauty contest, Yi costume exhibition as well as some traditional sports events such as bull fighting, goat fighting, horse racing and wrestling. While the climax of torch festival draws near when the night falls. After it is completely dark, the activities on the open ground subside while people sacrifice the God of Fire, tourists may have the chance to see grand gathering of torches dancing in the open air.

Torch Festival

Shoton Festival is a traditional festival that has a long history in Tibet. The Shoton Festival starts on the 30th day of the 6th month according to Tibetan calendar and lasts five days. In Tibetan, “sho” means yoghurt and “ton” means feast. Therefore Shoton Festival is a festival of drinking yoghurt as well as enjoying big meal. Previously, people only had yoghurt during the festival but now, yoghurt is a common food for Tibetan people. The content of the festival today includes the grand Buddhist and Tibetan opera performances. That's also why Shoton Festival is called “Tibetan Opera Festival” and “Buddhist Portrait Unfolding Festival”. The festival traditionally kicks off with a Buddhist Portrait Unfolding Ritual, then features a series of performances like yak racing and tests of horsemanship.

The Gelug Sect regulates that between April and June according to Tibetan calendar, Lamas can only practice Buddhism in monasteries to avoid treading and killing tiny lives. The ban will be lifted at the end of June. At that time, all lamas go out of monasteries and the laymen will offer them sour milk and perform Tibetan operas for them. After 1642, the Gandain Phodrang (Paradise Palace) of the Drepung Monastery became the political, religious and cultural centre of Tibet. Tens of thousands of people rushed there each June 30th to give sour milk to lamas and ask for blessings. The Tibetan Opera troupes and wild yak dancing troupes all came to perform. In this way, the Shoton Festival was formed.

Early on the morning of the first day of the Shoton Festival, among the sound of horns and the curling smoke, lamas from Drepung Monastery unfold a huge Buddhist Portrait. Numerous followers and visitors cross their hands and lay prostrate in worship. On the second day of the festival, people carry food and tents before gathering in Norbulingka or the Park of the Dragon King which is opposite to the Potala Palace. The opera is performed from 11 o'clock till the twilight coming. People sit around, watching the opera and chanting the name of Buddha.

The prelude of the Shoton Festival is the Buddha exhibition in Drepung Monastery, which is held at the foot of the Gebeiwoze Mountain. The tranquil valley becomes excited. With the sound of sutra bugle reverberating through the valley, about 100 lamas will carry the large-scale thangka portraying Qamba Buddha (or Maitreya) out of the Coqen Hall of the Drepung Monastery and step towards the west of the monastery where a special platform is set up for the Buddha picture exhibition. At this moment, the mulberry smoke arises from all directions, bugles resound and scripture reciting goes on. The large thangka then will be slowly opened up. People rush up to offer white hada (a piece of silk used as a greeting gift in Tibetans). Countless hada fly in front of the Buddha picture, forming a great scene. In no more than two hours, the thangka will be rolled up again and carried back. People will not see it till the next year. Then people go to the courtyard of Gandain Phodrang to watch Tibetan Opera. In the afternoon, the activities center moves to Norbulingka. In the following week, the major activity is to watch the Tibetan Opera. During the Shoton Festival, Tibetan people bring along the old and the young, call on relatives and friends to Lingka gardens. The Norbulingka and other parks of Lhasa are dotted with colorful tents.

Nowadays, the Shoton Festival has become a comprehensive celebration activity with the most influences in Tibet. It is also a grand meeting for commodity exchanges.

Shoton Festival

Qixi Festival, literally "the Night of Sevens", falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month on the Chinese calendar, hence its name. It has sometimes been called Chinese Valentine's Day since the late 1990s. Qixi Festival was also called Qiqiao Festival (praying for skills) in ancient times, girls traditionally demonstrate their domestic arts, especially melon carving, on this day and make wishes for a good husband.

In late summer, the stars Altair and Vega are high in the night sky, and the Chinese tell the following love story, which has touched thousands of people. A young cowherd, Niulang, came across a beautiful girl whose name is Zhinu, the seventh daughter of the Goddess. Zhinu was a weaver and had just escaped from boring heaven to look for fun. Zhinu soon fell in love with Niulang, and they got married without the acknowledgement of the Goddess. Zhinu proved to be a wonderful wife, and Niulang also performed to be a good husband. They lived happily and had two children. But the Goddess of Heaven found out that Zhinu, a fairy girl, had married a mere mortal. The Goddess was furious and ordered Zhinu to return to heaven. Niulang was very upset that his wife had disappeared. Suddenly, his ox began to talk, telling him that if he killed it and put on its hide, he would be able to go up to Heaven to find his wife. Crying bitterly, Niulang killed the ox, put on its skin, and then carried his two beloved children off to Heaven to find his wife. The Goddess discovered this and was very angry. Taking out her hairpin, the Goddess scratched a wide river in the sky to separate the two lovers, thus forming the Milky Way between Altair and Vega. Zhinu must sit forever on one side of the river, sadly weaving on her loom, while Niulang watches her from afar, taking care of their two children. But once a year all the magpies in the world would take pity on them and fly up into heaven to form a bridge over the star so the lovers may get together for a single night, which is the seventh night of the seventh moon. Chinese people call the bridge "Que Qiao", which means the bridge of magpies.

Qixi Festival originated during the Han Dynasty. It came from people's worship of the stars. On this day, a festoon is placed in the yard and single or newly married women in the household makes an offering to Niulang and Zhinu consisting of fruit, flowers, tea, and face powder. After finishing the offering, half of the face powder is thrown on the roof and the other half divided among the young women of the household. It is believed that by doing this, the women are bound in beauty with Zhinu. Another tradition is for girls to throw a sewing needle into a bowl full of water on the night of Qixi as a test of embroidery skills. If the needle floats on top of the water instead of sinking, it proves the girl is a skilled embroiders. Single girls also pray for finding a good husband in the future. And the newly married women pray to become pregnant quickly.

Qixi Festival

Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival or Zhongqiu Festival, is a popular lunar harvest festival celebrated by Chinese. A description of the festival first appeared in Rites of Zhou, a written collection of rituals of the Western Zhou Dynasty from 3,000 years ago. The celebration became popular during the early Tang Dynasty. The festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese lunar calendar.

Moon rabbit is a traditional icon. According to tradition, the Jade Rabbit pounds medicine, together with the beautiful lady, Chang'e, for the gods. They lived on the moon so Jade Rabbit was also called the Moon Rabbit. Others say that the Jade Rabbit is a shape, assumed by Chang'e herself. The dark areas to the top of the full moon may be construed as the figure of a rabbit.

Accompanying the celebration, there are additional cultural or regional customs, such as: family reunion, eating mooncakes, matchmaking, carrying brightly lit lanterns, lighting lanterns on towers as well as floating sky lanterns. From ancient China, families gathered together on Mid-Autumn Festival and had big dinners. After the supper, they would usually sit in the yard, tasting moon cakes and at the same time, enjoying the splendid sight of the full moon.

Mid-Autumn Festival

The National Day of the People's Republic of China is celebrated every year on October 1st. It is a public holiday usually falls from Oct.1st to Oct.7th for Chinese to celebrate their national day.

The PRC was founded on October 1, 1949 with a grand ceremony at Tian'anmen Square. The Central People's Government passed the Resolution on the National Day of the People's Republic of China on December 2nd, 1949, declaring that October 1st to be the National Day. The National Holiday now marks the start of one of the two Golden Weeks in China. The other one is Spring Festival Holiday which lasts for 7 days from Jan.1st to Jan.7th based on Chinese lunar calendar.

The National Day is celebrated throughout mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau with a variety of government organized activities, including fireworks and concerts. Public places, such as Tian'anmen Square in Beijing, are decorated in a festive theme. Portraits of revered leaders are publicly displayed. A fireworks display is usually held nationwide in all cities and many parades occur in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Wuhan, Chengdu, Guangzhou, pushing the celebration to high.

The National Day of the People's Republic of China

Double Ninth Festival, falls on the ninth day of the ninth month in the Chinese calendar, is a traditional Chinese holiday, mentioned in writing since before the East Han period (before 25AD). According to the Yi Ching (Book of Changes), nine is a Yang (a traditional Chinese spiritual concept and one of the two opposing principles in nature, representing energy) number. The ninth day of the ninth lunar month (or double nine) has too much Yang and is thus a potentially dangerous date. Hence, the day is also called "Double Yang Festival". To protect against danger, it is customary to climb a high mountain, drink chrysanthemum wine, and wear the Zhuyu (cornus officinalis plants). This is because both chrysanthemum and cornus officinalis plants are considered to have cleansing qualities which are used on other occasions to air out houses and cure illnesses. On this holiday some Chinese also visit the graves of their ancestors to pay their respects. People eat Chongyang cakes on this day.

In 1966, the Republic of China rededicated the holiday as "Senior Citizens' Day", underscoring one custom as it is observed in China, where the festival is also an opportunity to care for and appreciate the elderly.

Double Ninth may have originated as a day to drive away danger, but like the Chinese New Year, over time it became a day of celebration. In contemporary times it is an occasion for hiking and chrysanthemum appreciation. Stores sell rice cakes with mini colorful flags to represent Zhuyu. Most people drink chrysanthemum tea, while a few traditionalists drink homemade chrysanthemum wine. Children learn poems about chrysanthemums, and many localities host chrysanthemum exhibits. Mountain climbing races are also popular, after which the winners get to wear a wreath made of Zhuyu.

Double Ninth Festival

Corban Festival is a traditional festival celebrated by over ten ethnic minorities in China including Uyghur, Hui, Kazak, Tajik, Kyrgyz, Salar, Dongxiang, Bao’an, etc. Also known as "Sacrifice Festival" or "Al Adha Feast", the Corban Festival is named with the Festival of Fast-breaking and Mawlid al-Nabi as one of the three major Islamic festivals. During the festival, people will take part in community worship to pilgrimage to Allah. They slay livestock and offer sacrifice to Allah, to whom they are desired to get closer.

Before the festival, every family is busy in cleaning house, making festival pastry, and preparing for livestock to be slaughtered. Breed of livestock varies with the financial conditions of every family, with sheep, cattle, camel and chicken as the common choice.

In the morning of the festival, people will take a bath, dress up and go to mosque for community worship, which is of the largest scale all the year round. On this specific day, everyone should fast for half a day until the end of the worship. After that, they will go back home and slay livestock. It is believed to be wizard to speak out "Takbir" (there is no god but Allah) when slaughtering livestock. Livestock meat is usually divided into three portions: one for the family members, one for relatives and the rest for the poor. Then it is time for extending festival greetings, first to villagers having suffered family disasters such as funeral recently, then to the elderly, and finally to relatives as well as friends. According to the traditional customs ethnic groups who believe in Islam, greetings to the elderly of husband's and wife’s families should be extended by the couple together, while those to others can be extended separately. Other than mutual greetings, a series of literary and art activities will be carried out to intensify the atmosphere of festival. For example, the Uyghur people who are apt at singing and dancing will hold a grand Maxi Laifu performance gathering at the square, where they will play musical instruments while singing and dancing. 

As a religious festival of Moslem, the Corban Festival is similar to other traditional festivals in terms of promoting social contact. During this grand festival, people will care for and share happiness with one another, which can enhance the interpersonal affections and promote harmony among the ethnic minorities jointly celebrating the festival.

Corban Festival

Winter Solstice Festival, or the Dongzhi Festival in Chinese, is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese during the Dongzhi solar term (winter solstice) when sunshine is weakest and daylight shortest. It occurred on or around December 22nd each year. The origins of this festival can be traced back to the Yin and Yang (two extremes) philosophy of balance and harmony in the cosmos. After this celebration, there will be days with longer daylight hours and therefore an increase in positive energy flowing in. Traditionally, the Dongzhi Festival is also a time for the family to get together. One activity that occurs during these get-togethers is the making and eating of Tangyuan, balls of glutinous rice, which symbolize reunion. The flour balls may be plain or stuffed. They are cooked in a sweet soup or savory broth with both the ball and the soup served in one bowl. In northern China, people typically eat dumplings on Dongzhi Day. It is said to have originated from medical sage Zhang Zhongjing in the Han Dynasty. On one cold winter day, he saw the poor suffering from chilblains on their ears. Feeling sympathetic, he ordered his apprentices to make dumplings with lamb and other ingredients, and distribute them among the poor to keep them warm, to keep their ears from getting chilblains. From that time on, it has been a tradition to eat dumplings on the day of Winter Solstice. Old traditions also require people with the same surname or from the same clan to gather at their ancestral temples to worship on this day. There is always a grand reunion dinner following the sacrificial ceremony. The festive food is also a reminder that we are now a year older and should behave better in the coming year. Even today, many Chinese around the world, especially the elderly, still insist that one is "a year older" right after the Dongzhi celebration instead of waiting for the Chinese New Year.

Winter Solstice Festival

Blang, also spelled Bulong, is a Chinese ethnic group which lived in the Lancang river valley during ancient times. It is believed that these people were one branch of a number of peoples that were collectively known to the ancient Chinese as the “Baipu”, literally the "Hundred Pu".

Traditionally, Blang people considered teeth blackened by chewing betel nuts a beauty characteristic. The people of this minority are mostly animists, in addition to ancestor worship. They also combine their native beliefs with Theravada Buddhism.

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