Chinese Holidays

Chinese Holidays

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The Traditional Chinese holidays have been part of Chinese tradition for thousands of years; they are an essential part of Chinese culture. Many holidays are associated with Chinese mythology and folklore tales, but more realistically, they probably originated from ancient farmer rituals for celebrating harvests or prayer offerings. The most important Chinese holiday is the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival), which is also celebrated in Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and other Asian countries. All traditional holidays are scheduled according to the Chinese calendar (except the Qing Ming and Winter Solstice days, falling on the respective Jie qi in the Agricultural calendar).

Date Festival Name Remarks
Last day of lunar year Chinese New Year Eve Clean the house, put up new posters of “door gods” on front doors, blow up fireworks before the family reunion dinner, which should be at least a 10 course meal with a whole fish entre symbolizing the abundance of the coming year. (The fish entre should not be consumed completely because the leftover symbolizes the abundance) Also, melons should not be eaten, since the Cantonese pronounciation of “melon” is the same as the slang for “die”. People who rely on investments should not drink Coca-cola because “ho lok” (Cantonese) means “can go down”. There are also many taboos concerning what brings luck and what doesn’t. Here are some: Do not say any unlucky words related to death or bad fortune; if you drop or break anything you should say “Fa Hoi Foo Guai”, which means prosperity is coming; do not cry, which means you will cry for the whole year; do not borrow money, which implies insufficiency, etc. Each year, there are different lucky directions and positions in the house, and different measures should be taken in those places. <There are countless beliefs ruling what you should and should not do, and the ones listed here are only a few.>
1st day of 1st lunar month Spring Festival Chinese New Year) More fireworks after midnight, visit family members.
15th day of 1st lunar month Lantern Festival Lantern parade and lion dance celebrating the first full moon
2nd day of 2nd lunar month Zhonghe Festival (Zhong He Jie), Blue Dragon Festival Eat Chinese pancakes (Chun bing) and noodles, clean the house. Also known as Dragon Raising its Head
3rd day of 3rd lunar month Shangsi Festival (Shang Si Jie) Traditional Chinese Women’s Day.
At the jie qi known as qing ming, solar longitude 15 degrees, 104 days after winter solstice (around April 5) Qing Ming Jie (Tomb Sweeping Day)/Mourning Day / Ching Ming Festival Visit, clean, and make offerings at ancestral gravesites, spring outing
5th day of 5th lunar month Dragon Boat Festival (Dragon Festival) / Tuen Ng Festival Dragon boat race, eat dumplings wrapped in lotus leaves Zongzi. This festival commemorates the ancient poet Qu Yuan; drink yellow rice wine, related to the White Snake Lady legend
6th day of 6th lunar month Bathing and Basking Festival (Xi Shai Jie) Put books, sheets, cloth under the sun.
7th day of 7th lunar month The Night of Sevens /Magpie Festival/ Qi Xi According to legend, the goddess “Zhi N” (the star Vega) fell in love with the farmer boy “Niu Lang” (the star Altair), but was disapproved by the her mother goddess. As punishment, they were separated by the Milky Way and could only meet once a year on this night.
15th day of 7th lunar month Spirit Festival (Ghost Festival Burn fake paper money and make offerings to ancestors and the dead to appease them, so they will not come and trouble the living.
15th day of 8th lunar month Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon Festival) Eat mooncake, family union meal, related to the legend of Chang E
9th day of 9th lunar month Double Ninth Festival /Dual-Yang Festival/ Chung Yeung Festival Autumn outing and mountain climbing, some Chinese also visit the graves of their ancestors to pay their respects.
15th day of the 10th lunar month Spirit Festival/ Water Lantern Festival Set flower shaped lanterns adrift in a stream or river at sundown, give offerings to deceased whose wandering spirits/ghosts may return at night to visit.
Day of the winter solstice (solar longitude 270 degrees), December 21, 2009 Winter Solstice Festival/Mid-Winter Festival Have Tangyuan and Jiuniang and perform ancestor worship, Feast day, family gatherings, also named “Chinese Thanksgiving”
8th day of 12th lunar month Laba Festival/Congee Festival This is the day the Buddha attained enlightenment. People usually eat Laba congee, which is made of mixed grains and fruits.

Timetable of Chinese Traditional Festivals (2012 – 2015)

Year Spring Festival Lantern Festival Qingming Festival Dragon Boat Double Seventh Mid-autumn Festival Chongyang Festival Laba Festival
2012 Jan. 23 Feb. 6 Apr. 4 Jun. 23 Aug. 23 Sept. 30 Oct. 23 Jan. 19, 2013
2013 Feb. 10 Feb. 24 Apr. 4 Jun. 12 Aug. 13 Sept. 19 Oct. 13 Jan. 8, 2014
2014 Jan. 31 Feb. 14 Apr. 5 Jun. 2 Aug. 2 Sept. 8 Oct. 2 Jan. 27, 2015
2015 Feb. 19 Mar. 5 Apr. 5 Jun. 20 Aug. 20 Sept. 27 Oct. 21 Jan. 17, 2016