Holidays & Festivals
National holidays in China include:
New Year’s Day on January 1
Chinese New Year (the first day of the first month on the Chinese Lunar Calendar, falls in late January or early February)
International Labor Day Celebration from May 1 through 3
National Day Celebration from October 1 through
Traditional Chinese Festivals
Boasting rich cultural meaning and a long history, traditional Chinese festivals compose an important and brilliant part of Chinese culture. Following are a few example of some of the more popular festivals celebrated in China
The Spring Festival is the most important festival for the Chinese people and is when all family members get together, just like Christmas in the West. All people living away from home go back, becoming the busiest time for airports, railway stations and long-distance bus stations. The Spring Festival falls on the 1st day of the 1st lunar month, often one month later than the Gregorian calendar. A series of activities such as lion dancing, dragon lantern dancing, lantern festivals and temple fairs will be held for days. The Spring Festival then comes to an end when the Lantern Festival is finished.
The Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month, usually in February or March. This day’s important activity is watching lanterns. Throughout the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), Buddhism flourished in China. One emperor heard that Buddhist monks would watch sarira, or remains from the cremation of Buddha’s body, and light lanterns to worship Buddha on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month, so he ordered to light lanterns in the imperial palace and temples to show respect to Buddha on this day.
Dragon Boat Festival
The Dragon Boat Festival, the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, has had a history of more than 2,000 years. It is usually in June in the Gregorian calendar. Dragon boat racing is an indispensable part of the festival, held all over the country. As the starting gun is fired, people will see racers in dragon-shaped canoes pulling the oars, accompanied by rapid drum beats, speeding toward their destination.
Zongzi is an essential food of the Dragon Boat Festival. It is said that people ate them in the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC). In early times, it was only glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in reed or other plant leaves and tied with colored thread, but now the fillings are more diversified, including jujube and bean paste, fresh meat, and ham and egg yolk.
Double Seventh Festival
The Double Seventh Festival, on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, is a traditional festival full of romance. It often goes into August. This festival is celebrated when the weather is warm and the grass and trees reveal their luxuriant greens. In recent years, in particular, younger generations in urban areas have celebrated it as a kind of Chinese Valentine’s Day. As a result, owners of flower shops, bars and stores will promote items related to the theme of romance.
The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, usually in October. The festival has a long history. In ancient China, emperors followed the rite of offering sacrifices to the sun in spring and to the moon in autumn. Historical books of the Zhou Dynasty had had the word “Mid-Autumn”. Later aristocrats and literary figures helped expand the ceremony to common people. They enjoyed the full, bright moon on that day, worshipped it and expressed their thoughts and feelings under it. People in different places follow various customs, but all show their love and longing for a better life. Today people enjoy the full moon and eat moon cakes on that day. The moon looks extremely round, big and bright on the 15th day of each lunar month. People selected the August 15 to celebrate because it is a season when crops and fruits are ripe and the weather is pleasant. On the Mid-Autumn Festival, family and friends meet outside, putting food on tables and looking up at the sky while talking about life.