If you are planning to travel to China, you may want to carve some time out of your rather busy itinerary to experience their festivities because, more than anything else, the festivals give you the real Chinese experience. But China is known for its many and often long festivals, all celebrating important events in the Chinese culture. So, which festivals should you know about and what are the festivals all about?
Chinese New Year Eve
First, and the biggest Chinese festival is Chinese New Year’s Eve. This is a celebration that takes place the day before the Chinese New Year, and as expected or just like the rest of the New Year’s Eve the rest of the world celebrates, the New Year Eve festival is regarded as the reunion day for all Chinese families. The festival and the associated festivities have evolved a lot over the years, and it is believed to be a celebration that dates back to more than 3500 years.
The festival takes place on the last day of the 12th lunar year, and it marks the end of the year. The New Year’s Eve celebration is followed by the Spring Festival or the Chinese New Year festival, which is considered the most important festival by the Chinese people. This year, the Chinese New Year is on 1st February 2022.
The Spring Festival or the Chinese New Year is one of China’s biggest and also the most elaborate celebrations. The Spring Festival symbolizes and honors the family unit while also honoring the past and the present generations. The festival gets its name from the fact that this celebration kicks off at the start of spring. It is also called the Lunar New Year, and it is the Grandest of China’s holidays, lasting a total of 7days.
This annual event is the most colorful festival during which there are endless activities that are the hallmark of the festival, and these include making dumplings, setting off the firecrackers and loud fireworks, setting off the iconic red lanterns, dragon dances, parades, massive banquets, and many other exuberant celebrations that are marked all around the world.
In the Chinese Calendar for 2022 is the Year of the Tiger, which is associated with bravery, strength, and exorcising evil spirits. And China’s public holiday to celebrate this festival runs from 31st January to 6th February.
The Lantern Festival is a celebration that marks the end of the Chinese New Year, meaning it comes immediately after the Spring Festival. The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 1st month or the lunisolar year.
During the Lantern Festival night, streets across China are loudly and colorfully decorated with some of the most colorful lanterns that often have riddles scribbled on them. Sweet rice balls or Tangyuan are common, and people set off the fireworks while watching the dragon, as well as the lion dances.
Also known as the Tomb Sweeping Day of the Pure Brightness Festival, Qingming Festival is a special kind of celebration that is meant to honor the souls of the departed. It is actually a somber holiday during which people visit and clean/sweep the tombs of the departed as a way of showing respect to the ancestors.
The festival takes place on either April 4th or 5th, but there is a public holiday from April 3rd – April 5th to mark the festival.
Dragon Boat Festival
Slotted for June 3rd, the dragon boat festival or Duanwu Festival is one of the Chinese folk festivals that take place on the 5th day of the 5th month in the Chinese calendar. The festival commemorates the death of a Chinese Poet and minister called Qu Yuan while also celebrating his contributions to classical poetry and his patriotism, things that made him a national hero.
The celebrations involve dragon boat racing and other health-related customs. Sticky rice dumplings are quite common during these celebrations.
Also called the Double Seventh Festival or Chinese Valentine’s Day, the Qixi festival celebrates the romantic legend about an ox herd and a weaver girl. The festival takes place on the 7th day of the 7th month (Chinese Lunar Month), or August 4th, 2022, but it’s not recognized as a public holiday.
The Zhongyuan festival is also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, which is celebrated in both the Yulanpen for Buddhist and Taoist religions. It is a special sacrificial ceremony for the dead people and ghosts, especially the errant ghosts of the land. It is celebrated on the 15th day during the 7th lunar month or the 14th day in Southern China.
Performing many of the festival’s ceremonies is important as it helps to protect the living from the wrath of the ghosts. Food is prepared thrice daily, families place ancestral tablets on the table, and there is also the burning of incense.
This festival, scheduled for September 10th or the 15th day of the Lunar month’s eighth month, is also known as the Moon (Mooncake) Festival, and it is a traditional festival practiced in mainland China.
The festival marks the reunion time for families, and it is akin to Thanksgiving in the West. Chinese people get a 3-day holiday to celebrate the festival as it is considered to be China’s second-most important festival after the Chinese New Year. During the festivities, there are large gatherings for dinners, lighting of the paper lanterns, worshipping of the moon, and, as expected, eating mooncakes, among others.
Double Ninth Festival
Also known as the Chongyang Festival, the Double Ninth Festival is celebrated on the 9th day of the 9th month of the lunar month. It is also called the Senior Citizen’s Festival, and it is an ancient memorial festival, which is also the day that families get to visit their ancestors’ graves and pay their respects to them. During the festival, people also climb mountains, drink chrysanthemum tea or wine, and eat Chongyang cake.
The Winter Solstice Festival is also called the Dongzhi festival, and it is a traditional Chinese festival that takes place on the 20th or the 21st of December when the nights are the longest ad the days the shortest in the northern hemisphere.
The Laba Festival that is celebrated during the 8th day of the last month on the Chinese calendar is more than 3,000 years old, and it is marked by people giving sacrifices to the ancestors while praying to the heavens and the earth for a good harvest, as well as good luck for the family. It is marked by the Laba Congee eating festival that involves eating porridge and different types of foods like beans, rice, meat, curd, dried nuts, etc.