Major Traditional Festivals in China

Spring Festival
      Also known as the Chinese New Year, Spring Festival is the most important traditional festival in China. It takes place in late January or early February on western calendar and starts on the first day of the Chinese New Year and ends on the 15th day of the month. On the eve of the festival, houses are thoroughly cleaned. Everyone gets a haircut and buys new clothes preparing the family reunion feast, pasting New Year couplets on gateposts or door panels. During the festival, everyone wears new clothes. People pay New Year visits to relatives and friends to extend the New Year's greetings. This is the time for rest and relaxation, and for celebration as well. In a legend, a demon named “nian” (meaning year) would torment people every year during the winter. To keep the demon away, people put red couplets on their gates, set off fire-cracks, beat gongs and drums. Therefore, the customs of celebrating Spring Festival formed.
Lantern Festival
      Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day of the first month on the day of the first full moon of the lunar year, which is marked by various types of lantern displays, acrobatics and folk dances. Lantern Festival originated in ancient China, when the 15th day of the first month was designated to celebrate the festival for the purpose of promoting Buddhism. Meanwhile, people hung lanterns and held lantern shows on the day, which served as tributes to the Buddha. Later, “yuanxiao” (dumpling made of glutinous rice flour with sweet stuffing), a symbol of family reunion, affection, and happiness, was invented, and eating “yuanxiao” became a custom of Lantern Festival.
Dragon Boat Festival
      Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. During the festival, people eat “zongzi”, a glutinous rice pudding wrapped in mugwort leaves and hold dragon boat races. This is a day to commemorate Qu Yuan, a patriotic poet of the Warring States Period (475B.C.-221B.C.). He dedicated his life to make his homeland strong and prosperous, but his king would not take his advices, as a result, Qu Yuan drowned himself on the fifth day of the fifth month. To save his body, people rowed boats and threw cooked rice wrapped with leaves into the water to feed the fish. Later, the custom of eating “zongzi” became part of the festival.
Mid-Autumn Festival
      Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. On that night, the moon is supposed to be brighter and fuller than any other night. In China, a full moon stands for family reunion. On the day, people eat moon cakes under the moonlight with family members. Moon cake is made of wheat flour stuffed with sugar and sesame. In a Chinese legend, there were ten suns in the universe and many people were burned to death. A hero named Hou Yi saved the rest of the people by shooting down the other nine suns. He was then bestowed with the elixir of immortality by a deity, and he gave the elixir to his wife-Chang Er for safekeeping. One day, Hou Yi's apprentice tried to rob the elixir, and then Chang Er swallowed the elixir. So she became an immortal and ascended to the moon. Looking up at the moon one night, Hou Yi saw a figure like his wife; he then offered cakes to her. Thus the custom of watching the moon and eating moon cakes came into being.