China’s Top 6 Traditional Festivals

An excellent introduction to the Chinese culture is to experience a Chinese traditional festival. From annual events like the Winter Solstice, Double Seven Festival, and the Qingming (Tomb Sweeping) Festival, there are a variety of events to choose from. Here is a list of the top Chinese festivals!

1. The Winter Solstice Festival

Steeped in the Chinese concept of yin and yang, The Winter Solstice Festival celebrates the balance and harmony in life. It is believed that on the shortest day of the year, the yin qualities of cold and darkness are at their most powerful, leading into the optimistic yang period of warmth and light. Traditionally, The Winter Solstice Festival meant it was time for fisherman and farmers to get ready for the upcoming cold months, making it especially important in the southern parts of China, second only to Chinese New Year.

In Hong Kong, many people leave work early to go home and enjoy a lavish meal that includes tongyuen (a sweet soup with balls of sticky rice) with their family.

2. The Dragon Boat Festival

The Duanwu Festival, also known as the Dragon Boat Festival, takes place on the 5th day of the 5th month on the Chinese lunar calendar. Known for its educational influence, this significant festival has been held annually for more than 2,000 years. The festival represents the chance for Chinese people to dispel diseases and build their bodies. There are many legends circulating about the festival, but the most popular is the legend of patriotic poet Qu Yuan (340-278 BC).

The people in China celebrate this day with traditional activities and customs such as hanging calamus and mugwort leaves, tying five-colour silk thread, wearing a perfume pouch, eating zongzi, and of course dragon boat racing.

3. Chinese New Year

source: wikipedia

The first day of the Chinese lunar calendar is Chinese New Year’s Day. Also known as the Spring Festival, this day is by far the most important economic and social holiday in China. Chinese New Year is a time to honor one’s ancestors, household, and heavenly deities by bringing families together for a big feast. The younger generation of Chinese, however, celebrates the holiday much differently than their ancestors, using the holiday as a chance for relaxation from work and an opportunity to renew family ties.

4. Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival is traditionally held on the last day of China’s Spring Festival. It marks the end of the Chinese taboos put into effect during Chinese New Year. This is also the time when all New Year decorations are taken down.

The Lantern Festival is held the first full moon night of the Chinese calendar and signifies the return of spring and the reunion of family. However, because there is no public holiday for this festival, most people cannot celebrate it with their families.

5. Qingming Festival

The Qingming Festival, also known as tomb sweeping, is a festival based on the Chinese tradition of tomb sweeping in honor of their ancestors. Along with tomb sweeping, there are a variety of other activities done to celebrate this important day such as putting willow branches on gates, kite flying, and spring outings. Playing sports in anticipation of the arrival of spring and to ward off the cold is also popular during Qingming.

6. Hungry Ghost Festival

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source: chineseholidays101

The Hungry Ghost Festival is held in China by Buddhists and Taoists on the 15th night of the seventh lunar month (also called Ghost Month). It is also known as the Mid-July Festival, the Ghost Festival, and the Ullambana Festival of Buddhism. Legend has it that on this 15th night of Ghost Month, the gates to hell as well as heaven are left open, permitting the dead into the world to enjoy a delicious meal. Some of the traditions tied to this festival include praying for pain relief for those on the other side, leaving shoes out for the spirits to use,  and placing lit lanterns on the river and on the roads to light the way for the spirits to follow.

Have you ever been to a Chinese festival? If so, share your experience with us!

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Lesley Daunt

Lesley Daunt

Lesley Daunt is a travel writer that has written for numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Huffington Post, Examiner, Digital Journal and more.
Lesley Daunt