China is home to about 1.3 billion people, with a diverse number of cultures and celebrations that take place in every part of the country. Witnessing the celebrations of festivals in China is a great way to experience and understand the vibrant culture of the people. When planning for your trip, why not schedule it around these major festivals in China?
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is one of the most important and widely celebrated festivals in China. It typically takes place in February, with its exact date determined by the Lunar Calendar.
Specific traditions and customs vary according to region, though there are several similarities. Chinese New Year even is often a day of family reunion, where family members travel back to their homes to gather over a meal. Red packets, or hongbaos, are given out to wish good fortunate and prosperity to those who receive it. You might also catch fireworks, joyful Chinese New Year music Lion/Dragon dances, and offerings to ancestors and deities through Chinese New Year festivals in China.
The Chinese New Year celebrations end on the 15th day of the first month. This day is also marks the Lantern Festival, when you might catch beautiful lanterns decorating the streets and stores in China.
Tomb Sweeping Day
Compared to Chinese New Year, this festival takes a much more solemn tone. Also known as Qing Ming Jie, families would visit the tombs of their ancestors on this day to ‘sweep’ or tidy them up. Offerings such as food items, flowers and the burning of joysticks also take place.
Qing Ming Jie typically takes place in March or April of the Georgian calendar.
Dragon Boat Festival
Many stories have been formed on the origins of The Dragon Boat Festival, or Duan Wu Jie. Among the most popular is the story of Qu Yuan.
It is said that the Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the life and death of a stateman, Qu Yuan, during the warring states period. A royal servant to the emperor, Qu Yuan was accused of betrayal and banished. Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning. Villagers tried to save him, but could not find his body. They then made rice wrapped in bamboo leaves to feed the fishes of the river, in hopes that they would not touch Qu Yuan’s body.
Today, delicious glutinous rice dumplings are made and eaten to celebrate the dragon boat festival. You can also catch exciting dragon boat races all around China. Each beautifully decorated dragon boat is commandeered by a group of paddlers, who stroke the boat forward according to the beat of a drum. Dragon boat races are exciting to watch and gives you a glimpse into the vibrant community.
Chinese Valentines Day
Scheduled on the 7th day of the 7th month of the Lunar Calendar, this day holds greater weight in China compared to 14th February.
This day celebrates the legend of 2 lovers, a weaver maid and a cowherd, whose love was forbidden by the gods. The gods banished the couple to opposite sides of the Silver River (or Milk Way). The magpies of Earth took pity on them, and created a bridge so that the lovers may come together for a night.
A day with love in the air, it’s also a time when many couples choose to get married or celebrate their love.
Celebrated on 1 October, the Chinese National Day celebrations are a sight to behold! This week long festival involves an impressive array of performances. banquets and celebrations al around the country.
Important landmarks of China, such as the Tiananmen Square, are dressed up according to the festive occasion, marking the founding of the People’s Republic of China on 21 September 1949.
Mid Autumn Festival
A festival to celebrate good harvest, this festival is usually celebrated in Sep/Oct each year. Mooncakes are a popular delicacy during this period of time, be sure to try some! Lighting of lanterns of all shapes and colours is a yearly tradition during this festival, creating a lovely atmosphere along the city streets.
Double Ninth Festival
As its name suggests, this festival is celebrated on the 9th day of the 9th month in the Lunar Calendar. The number 9 is associated with ‘yang’ energy, and with ‘yang’ energy overflowing on this date, it is a dangerous day. To protect against the high ‘yang’ energy, drinking chrysanthemum liquor and wearing of the zhuyu plant has become the tradition. Some Chinese also visit their ancestral graves on this day, or take the opportunity for hiking trips.
A globally celebrated day on 25 December, this festival is usually celebrated in the major cities of China. Like many other Christmas celebrations around the world, expect to see lighted Christmas trees, exchange of gifts, Christmasy songs and Christmas shopping deals everywhere!
Keen to catch these festivals while you’re in China? We’ll be happy to take you around. Drop us an email for a chat!