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Chinese holidays

Traditional Chinese Holidays

An essential part of the Chinese culture are their traditional Chinese holidays which are celebrated not only in China but all over the world wherever there are Chinese people living. Many of the Chinese holidays are associated with Chinese mythology and folklore. A great many of these holidays have originated from ancient rituals. The most important Chinese holiday is the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival. This holiday is also celebrated in Korea, Vietnam, and other Asian countries. These traditional Chinese holidays are celebrated according to the Chinese calendar,. The exceptions are Tomb Sweeping Festival, National Day, and the Winter Solstice Festival which are all celebrated according to the Gregorian calendar. Only the Chinese New Year, the Quingming Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival are public holidays. To really enjoy and celebrate these traditional holidays you can make some special meals like Kung Pao shrimp which is always a welcome and delicious meal.

Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year has always been the longest and most important holiday in the Chinese calendar. It origin is centuries old and has gained importance due to myths and traditions. The Chinese New Year is celebrated not only in China but in countries and territories that have a significant Chinese population. Among the places where it is celebrated are Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Mauritius, the Philippines as well as in Chinatowns around the world. In China the regional customs and traditions vary greatly concerning the celebration of the Chinese New Year. It is the time when people buy presents, decorations, food, and clothing for the celebration. It is traditional for people to thoroughly clean their houses so that ill-fortune will be swept away and to make way for incoming good luck. Red colored paper cutouts decorate doors and windows and couplets with popular themes like “good fortune” or “happiness, wealth, and longevity”. The eve before the Chinese New Year families feast together. The food on the table includes chicken, ducks, pigs, and sweet delicacies. There are delicious dishes like cajun shrimp. The night ends with firecrackers. Early the following morning children greet their parents and wish them a healthy and happy new year. The children receive money in red paper envelopes. The tradition of the Chinese New Year is to forget and forgive all grudges and to wish everyone peace and happiness.

The Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a popular harvest festival which is celebrated by both the Chinese and the Vietnamese people. According to the Chinese calendar this festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the eight month during a full moon., According to the Gregorian calendar this would be in September or in early October, close to the autumn equinox. In 2006 the Government of the People’s Republic of China listed this festival as an “intangible cultural heritage” and in 2008 it officially became a Chinese public holiday. There is a popular legend that explains the origin of the Mid-Autumn Festival. One of the main traditions is the making and sharing of mooncakes because a round shape symbolized completeness and unity especially among families. Some areas of China have the tradition to make mooncakes during the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival. It would be up to the senior member of the household to cut the mooncakes into pieces and divide them among the family members to signify the reunion of the family.

The Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional and public holiday which originated in China. It is associated with many East Asian and Southeast Asian societies. According to the Lunisolar Chinese calendar the festival is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month. On the Gregorian calendar this date varies from year to year. The celebration includes eating rice dumplings known as “zongzi”, drinking realgar wine in Chinese xionghuangjiu, and racing dragon boats. The food eaten during the festival can include such delicious sauce as ponzu sauce.

The Dragon Boat Festival according to tradition commemorates the death of poet Qu Yuan of the ancient state of Chu during the Warring States Period of the Zhou Dynasty. At the end of the tragic story poet Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning in the Miluo River on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month. It is said that the local people who admired the poet dropped the zongzi rice dumplings into the river to feed the fish The rice dumplings were wrapped in bamboo leaves so that the fish wouldn’t eat Qu Yuan’s body and would eat the rice instead. This was the origin of zongzi Then the local people paddled boats onto the river to either scare away the fish or to retrieve the poet’s body and this was the origin of Dragon Boat racing.