Festival | Ancient Chinese Culture - Part 2

Archive for category Festival

Dragon Boat Races

Traditionally, dragon boat races are held as a part of the activity during the Duanwu Festival, also known as Dragon Boat Festival.

Legend says that hearing Qu Yuan’s suicide, the local people ruched in their fishing boat and tried desperately to save him. Meanwhile, in order to frighten away the fish and the evil water spirits, they beat drums and splashed the water with their paddles.

Later, dragon boating became the national sport of China. It is said that over 30 million dragon boaters who take part in races every year. Today, it is also one of the most exciting sports in the world wide.

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Duanwu Festival

Duanwu Festival, also known as Dragon Boat Festival, is traditionally celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month on the Chinese lunar calendar. This year’s Duanwu Festival falls on June 16, 2010.

Duanwu Festival has a long history in China. It originated in ancient China for over thousands of years. There are many versions about its origins, but today the most commonly accepted one is to commemorate the life and death of the poet and patriot Qu Yuan. Qu Yuan (340 BC – 278 BC) was a loyal minister in the ancient state of Chu. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lantern Riddles

Lantern riddles are displayed during traditional Chinese festivals, such as the Chinese Lantern Festival, Chinese middle autumn festival, etc. The full name of ‘Lantern Riddles‘ are ‘riddles written on lanterns‘.

In ancient China, people believed that it was as difficult to kill a tiger as it was to guess a lantern puzzle, so, it had another name – tiger lantern. Usually, there were four riddles written on red vertical strips of paper pasted to each lantern which was attached by a string.

The guessing tradition can date back to more than 2,000 years ago. In the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD), guessing riddles gradually became a contest among men. It reached its peak in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) when it is became popular among all the people.

The main subjects of the riddles included traditional songs, poems, stories or historical events, etc.

A example of Lantern Riddles

Riddles: What’s full of holes but still holds water?

Answer: a sponge

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Lantern Festival

Lantern Festival, also known as Yuan Xiao Festival or Shang Yuan Festival, falls on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month. For Chinese, it is a festival of great significance that is widely celebrated by families all around China.

The festival has a long history in China which can date back to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 25). There are many different versions about the origin of the Lantern Festival. But it is believed that it had something to do with religious worship.

In the daytime of that day, people have the chance to appreciate wonderful performances such as lion dances, dragon lantern dances, yangge dances, etc. At night, most families will let off fireworks. But the main attraction on that day is the lanterns. Decorative lanterns depicting animals, flowers, historical figures are found everywhere. People may also participate in the game which is called Guessing Lantern Riddles.

Another important part of the festival is eating Yuanxiao or Tangyuan, small dumpling balls made of glutinous rice flour. Nowadays, the custom of eating Yuanxiao still remains.

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Spring Festival

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or Chinese Lunar New Year, is the most important traditional festival in China. Its history can date back to the Shang Dynasty (1600BC – 1100BC).

The festival consists of a period of celebrations, starting on the first day of the first lunar month and ending with the Lantern Festival, the fifteenth day of the month. In Chinese culture, it is the most important festival for all the family members to get together.

Celebration

Sweeping of the Grounds
For the preparation for the New Year, every corner of the house must be swept and cleaned ten days before the New Year Day.

Spring Couplets
Spring Couplets represent best wishes and fortune for the coming year. They will be posted on the front doors in the month before the New Year’s Day, and often stay up for two months.

Reunion Dinner
All the family members will get together to have dinner on the New Year’s Eve.

Lantern Festival
The Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month.

Food
In Chinese culture, there are many foods related with this festival, for example, Niangao, Jiaozi, Fagao, Yusheng, etc.

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