Guide to the Traditional Festivals in China

With its long history of over 5000 years, China embraces a rich culture decorated by its many festivals. Among them, 7 major festivals are widely celebrated today. Most of them are celebrated according to the Chinese lunar calendar or Chinese agriculture calendar (nóng lì 农历). Thus, dates of each festival are varied in western calendar every year.


Spring Festival – Chūn jié 春节, 1 January lunar calendar

The most important festival in China is the Spring Festival, known as the traditional Chinese New Year. The Spring Festival is widely celebrated in most east Asia countries including China, Japan, Singapore, to name a few. Spring Festival is a time for family reunions. It is tradition to eat Dumplings on this special day. Recreational activities include: firework shows, dragon dance, lion dance performances, etc.


 Lantern Festival – Yuán xiāo jié 元宵节, 15 January lunar calendar

15 days after the Spring Festival is the Lantern festival. It is closely related to Spring Festival. The displaying of lanterns is a big event on that day. Special food Yuanxiao is consumed on this day, which is small balls made of glutinous rice powder.


Qingming Festival – Qīng míng jié 清明节, 4-6 April western calendar

This is a festival for mourning the deceased. It falls in early April. People usually sweep the tomb of the ancestors. This festival marks the start of the spring time. Thus, it’s also tradition to have family outings. Activities include: flying kites, hiking, etc.


Dragon Boat Festival – Duān wŭ jié 端午节, 5 May lunar calendar

One of the stories of Duanwu is to commemorate the ancient poet named Quyuan. Today, the festival is marked by eating zongzi and racing dragon boats. Zongzi is a triangle-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice. It’s wrapped in bamboo leaves.


Qixi Festival – Qī xī jié 七夕节, 7 July Lunar calendar

Qixi is a day for girls. Girls traditionally demonstrate domestic arts: sewing, embroidery, etc, which are necessary skills for girls. On this day, girls wish for a happy marriage.


Mid-Autumn Festival – Zhōng qiū jié 中秋节, 15 August Lunar calendar

A symbol of this festival is the full moon. The moon is supposed to be at its roundest shape on this day. Thus, it’s symbolizes family reunion. On this day, moon cake – cakes shaped as the moon,is the must-eat food.


Chongyang Festival – Chóng yáng jié 重阳节, 9 September lunar calendar
The number “nine” belongs to Yang in the theory of Yin and Yang. The ninth day of the ninth lunar month is a day when the two Yang numbers meet. So it is called Chongyang. This festival is usually perfect for outdoor activities. And it is a special day for people to pay their respects to the elderly.


Dates of traditional festivals in 2014

Chinese New Year                  Chūn jié                     春节                31 Jan 2014
Lantern Festival                       Yuán xiāo jié             元宵节            14 Feb 2014
Qingming Festival                   Qīng míng jié            清明节             5 Apr 2014
Dragon Boat Festival              Duān wŭ jié              端午节             2 Jun 2014
Qixi Festival                              Qī xī jié                     七夕节             2 Aug 2014
Mid-Autumn Festival               Zhōng qiū jié            中秋节             8 Sep 2014
Chongyang Festival               Chóng yáng jié         重阳节             2 Oct 2014

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