Our 4th meeting took place at TAMK library and Yu taught me things about the most important Chinese festivals. Altogether, there are lot of festivals in China during a year and those festivals are quite different compared to our holidays. Chinese calendar is called lunisolar, or shortly, lunar calendar. It is influenced by the sun and the moon and it is used to determine the days of traditional festivals. The calendar is based on moon’s cycle so that is a reason why Chinese New Year is at different times on different years.
Chinese New Year or Spring Festival is the most important festival in China. It is time for official public holidays. People spend that time with their families. Basically, Spring Festival is like our Christmas holiday. It is time for a big family reunion dinner. The whole family get together, relax, give gifts to each other and celebrate the year of hard work. The colour of the festival is red and it considered auspicious colour. People are dressed in red and all the decorations are red. The colour red is believed to vanquishing misfortune. The next big and meaningful festival is right after Chinese New Year and it is called Lantern Festival. Lantern Festival is the first full moon night in lunar calendar. The way to celebrate the festival varies regionally. There is colourful decoration all over the cities, different kind of activities, lion dances, dragon dances and riddles written on lanterns. At night, it must be magical to walk along the street, watch the full moon and all those lighted colourful lanterns.
Qingming Festival (Tomb Sweeping Day) is the day when people show respects to ancestors. This is also a time when you can start to enjoy the greenery of spring (beginning of April). This is a time to visit and sweep the graves. Some may put fruits on top of the tomb stones. It is also common that people burn incense and paper money. The tradition is that you light three incense to the memory of the deceased. After the Qingming Festival comes the Dragon Boat Festival on May. Dragon Boat Festival or Duanwu Festival is also traditional and important celebration in China. There is a legend about a poet called Qu Yuan, who jumped off the bridge in the Miluo River and drowned. He was a loved poet, so people tried to save him. They took their boats and rowed on the river, but couldn’t find Yuan. A legend also claims that they threw food into the river so that the fish would not eat his body. That is the story behind the Dragon Boat Festival. The most important activity during this festival is, of course, dragon boat racing.
China also has its own Valentine’s Day and it is called Double Seventh Day. It is on the 7th day of 7th month in lunar calendar. It is based on a romantic legend (the legend of Niulang and Zhinüand) and there are different variations of that legend. This one is the most romantic Chinese festival and that is why it is called Chinese Valentine’s Day. Originally the festival has been quite different but now it has many Western features.
Uh, there are so many festivals in China that I already lost count. And I probably forgot to mention some other important Chinese festivals… All these festivals are very fascinating, because of their background stories. It was also nice to learn that people in China still celebrates these holidays in traditional ways. I learnt a lot today and I really enjoyed all these stories and legends Yu told me.