Water Splashing Festival

Water Splashing Festival

The annual Water Splashing Festival of the Dai ethnic minority falls during the New Year celebrations of the Dai Calendar. It is the most important festival observed by the Dai ethnic people of Xishuangbanna Prefecture, and, similar to neighboring Thailand’s Songkran Festival, it involves three days of celebrations that include sincere, yet light-hearted religious rituals that invariably end in merrymaking, where everyone ends up getting splashed, sprayed or doused with water.

The festival lasts for three days. The first two days’ activities are concentrated on the banks of the Lancang River. On the first day, a grand celebration marks the beginning of the festival.  An out-door market is set up, where locals go for New Year shopping.  It is also a great place to purchase local souvenirs. Local food and snacks are other highlights traveler may not want to miss. Artists create sand carvings on open space close to the market.  A dragon boat race is held on the Lancang River to ring out the old year in the afternoon.  At night, the banks of the river are colorfully lit, and locals float river lanterns on the river. Floating river lanterns is an old tradition in China, which is still preserved in many cities today. The practice is thought to drive bad luck away and bring good luck.

The third day, the climax of the festival, is reserved for water splashing. On that day, the Dai put on their newest and best clothes, and then assemble at the local Buddhist temple, where the monks chant Buddhist scriptures. Afterward, a symbolic water splashing ritual is enacted whereby a Buddhist statue, with pomp and ceremony, is first coaxed out of the temple to the courtyard, and then is splashed with water. This important ritual is called ‘Bathing the Buddha’.

The completion of the ‘Bathing the Buddha’ ritual serves as the signal that encourages ordinary mortals to themselves engage in mutual water splashing. Accordingly, people flock to the streets with pots, pans, bottles, or whatever, where they uninhibitedly splash, spray and douse each other with water, with the same gusto with which Westerners engage in a good snowball free-for-all.

The Water Splashing ceremony, however, is more than just good-natured fun; it also contains a religious element: water is regarded by the Dai as a symbol, firstly, of religious purification, but also of goodwill among people. Therefore, splashing a fellow human being with water during the Water Splashing Festival,  whether a close neighbor or a fellow villager, or even a stranger, is an expression of the desire for good luck and prosperity to that person.

For the tourist interested in interacting directly with the Dai ethnic minority of Xishuangbanna Prefecture in an informal and fun-filled manner, the annual Water Splashing Festival that takes place in the month of April is the perfect occasion. China Highlights offers a special tour to the city of Jinghong each year to coincide with the Dai ethnic minority’s annual Water Splashing Festival. See famous ethnic festivals in China.

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Temple fairs, the year of the Ox

Temple fairs, the year of the Ox

On the night of the 25th to January 26, 2009, we have thoroughly enjoyed the fireworks that the malignant demons have driven the New Year so we could go with only benign helpful spirits. We are one day with the CCC (Chinese Culture Center) and have been to temple fairs.

We gathered a quarter to nine the morning at the CCC office and from there by bus gone into town, the first stop was the “Dongyue” temple there were many performances in front of the entrance, special dances in traditional costumes and acrobatics, indoor stalls were all over the fairground style quoits, throw balls, balloons, shooting etc. Many snack stalls and of course there was much incense offered for Buddha.

Wednesday morning we went to the CCC again, we depart with 4 buses to Donkey Village in Daxing that is a small local village an hour outside the city but it seems you are put back 20 years in time walking through the village, although there is much to build and renewed, here was a great show given by a men and women dance and show group in multicolored clothing, there was music and drums, and of course not missing the Sets runners here, which gave a good and professional show! It was also a delight to look for local spectators and children so beautiful and spontaneous.

For lunch we were all invited to the local people’s homes divided into groups of 8 people, we got some snacks and vegetables and as main course Dumplings in 3 types, delicious, and those people were so friendly and welcoming!

After lunch we got a show on a square in the village, there was a comedian who did a number of acts, a magician and a puppet show for young and old, all very funny and there was much laughter.

Then again all in the buses and at 4 o’clock we were back in town, toke a taxi home and the rest of the day free.

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Beijing Qianmen Street

Beijing Qianmen Street

On a beautiful day in November 2012 we visited Qianmen Street in Beijing. Located at the center of the city, it is a famous pedestrian street. It runs from the Archery Tower in the north to the turning of Tiantan Park in the south. It is 840 meters long and 21 meters width. It is composed with buildings in the late Qing Dynasty style. It has a history of more than 570 years. It was called Zhengyangmen Street during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and finally got the present name in 1965. There are also many Hutongs nearby. After more than one year’s renovation, it was reopened on August 7th before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. There is also the Dangdang Che (Tram) they were first introduced to Beijing in 1924, running from Qianmen to Xizhimen. In 1966, they were abandoned. Due to advanced technology, two of them have returned on this street as sightseeing cars. With the same look of the old ones, they start from the opposite ends. Each one can accommodate up to 84 visitors at a time.

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Moon festival

Moon festival

The Chinese Moon Festival is on the 15th of the 8th lunar month. It’s also known as the Mid-autumn Festival. Chinese culture is deeply embedded in traditional festivals. Just like Christmas and Thanksgiving in the West, the Moon Festival is one of the most important traditional events for the Chinese.

The Moon Festival is full of legendary stories. Legend says that Chang Er flew to the moon, where she has lived ever since. You might see her dancing on the moon during the Moon Festival. The Moon Festival is also an occasion for family reunions. When the full moon rises, families get together to watch the full moon, eat moon cakes, and sing moon poems. With the full moon, the legend, the family and the poems, you can’t help thinking that this is really a perfect world. That is why the Chinese are so fond of the Moon Festival.

The Moon Festival is also a romantic one. A perfect night for the festival is if it is a quiet night without a silk of cloud and with a little mild breeze from the sea. Lovers spend such a romantic night together tasting the delicious moon cake with some wine while watching the full moon. Even for a couple who can’t be together, they can still enjoy the night by watching the moon at the same time so it seems that they are together at that hour. A great number of poetry has been devoted to this romantic festival. Hope the Moon Festival will bring you happiness.  The moon cake is the food for the Moon Festival. The Chinese eat the moon cake at night with the full moon in the sky.

Another legend tells the children the story of the moon fairy living in a crystal palace, which comes out to dance on the moon’s shadowed surface. The legend surrounding the “lady living in the moon” dates back to ancient times, to a day when ten suns appeared at once in the sky. The Emperor ordered a famous archer to shoot down the nine extra suns. Once the task was accomplished, Goddess of Western Heaven rewarded the archer with a pill that would make him immortal. However, his wife found the pill, took it, and was banished to the moon as a result. The legend says that her beauty is greatest on the day of the Moon festival.

Today, Chinese people celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival with dances, feasting and moon gazing. Not to mention moon cakes. While baked goods are common feature at most Chinese celebrations, moon cakes are inextricably linked with the Moon festival. More elaborate versions of moon cakes contain four egg yolks (representing the four phases of the moon). Besides lotus seed paste, other traditional fillings include red bean paste and black bean paste. Unfortunately for dieters, moon cakes are rather high in calories.

While in the past moon cakes took up to four weeks to make, automation has speeded up the process considerably. Today, moon cakes may be filled with everything from dates, nuts, and fruit to Chinese sausages. More exotic creations include green tea moon cakes, and ping Pei or snow skin moon cakes, a Southeast Asian variation made with cooked glutinous rice. Given the difficulty of making them, most people prefer to purchase their moon cakes instead of making them. You’ll find them at Asian bakeries beginning around mid-August.

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Lei Feng Story

Lei Feng Story

Lei Feng was born in a family of poor peasants in Wangcheng district, Hunan Province, on 18 December 1940. After his father died in the war against Japan, his mother committed suicide as a result of the harassment she received at the hands of the son of her landlord.

The Party saved the orphan Lei Feng, fed him and brought him up as a mother would her own child. He joined the People’s Liberation Army, became a squad leader and a member of the Party. Diligent study of the works of Chairman Mao taught him how to live a life of extreme frugality, to eschew selfishness and to devote himself body and soul to the revolution and to the people. His greatest desire in life was to be nothing more than “a revolutionary screw that never rusts”.

As the “little screw” he wanted to be, Lei Feng performed many good deeds, he sent his meager savings to the parents of a fellow soldier who had been hit by a flood, he served tea and food to officers and recruits, he washed his buddies feet after a long march, and darned their socks, he went all-out to show his devotion to the revolutionary cause. In short, we are led to believe he lived the life of saintly Boy Scout. He did not commit great deeds by which he was remembered, but taught the people how to be happy with what they had, to obey the Party and to let the Central Committee, or better still, Mao himself, do their thinking for them.

Lei was killed in an accident on 15 August 1962. Many urban myths exist about the cause of his demise: he was said to have been electrocuted while assisting in the raising of a power line in the countryside; he was said to have hit an electricity pylon with his Army truck, etc. However, on 6 March 1997, all these stories were proven to be wrong. That day it was reported that Qiao Anshan, a retiree living in Liaoning province, drove the truck that knocked down the pole that fell on Lei Feng and killed him. Qiao recalled it was a Sunday when the pair was cleaning a lorry at Fushun Army base. The vehicle was driven to a hosepipe. Then Lei asked the driver to back up. “A rear wheel struck a pole from which barbed wire hung but I didn’t realize this and hit the accelerator hard, pushing over the pole and killing Lei Feng,” Mr. Qiao said. “When I held him on the ground, I saw blood gushing out of his mouth. He was sent to hospital … I felt a kind of vacuum in my brain. Can you understand this feeling? Later, in the mortuary, I took his hand and I just wanted to follow him. He was my best brother, my best companion, but I was the one who drove that truck.”

Although Lei could be termed a nobody, he left behind a diary which became an object of national study after 5 March 1963, when Chairman Mao Zedong called on the nation to learn from the 24-year-old martyr by penning the inscription Xiang Lei Feng tongzhi xuexi (Learn from Comrade Lei Feng). His diary was reprinted for study, photographs of Lei in action all of a sudden turned up, movies were made about his life, stills from these movies were turned into comic strips; posters bearing his image were produced in staggering quantities. It has always been something of a miracle that such an unprepossessing person could have made such an impact, and could have left so many pictures and written materials, even before he died. Recent scholarship proves that already in September 1960, Lei had been designated as an “Economizing Model Soldier”, after which an emulation campaign in the Army was started. For this purpose, most of the materials that later were used in the nation-wide campaign had been prepared.

The origins of Lei Feng’s famous diary were revealed shortly after the person responsible for his death stepped forward. It was given to him by Wang Peilin, and she became so close to Lei when they worked together at the Tuanshan Lake State farm that he named her his jiejie or elder sister. Their friendship began to blossom in February 1958 when 22-year-old Lei gave Ms. Wang, four years his senior, a book about Liu Hulan, another of the Communist Party’s revolutionary martyrs. Lei gave her a diary with a photograph of him inside. On the first page he wrote: “Wang Peilin, you are a loyal daughter of the party. I hope your youth blossoms fragrantly like a flower on the motherland. Great persistence makes great ideals. May you become a real soldier in our common work?” Lei later went to join the Anshan steelworks, but before he left Ms. Wang gave him a satin-covered diary. The couple lost touch after Ms. Wang moved to Anhui province but on 6 March 1963, she saw Lei’s photograph in newspapers which reported his good deeds and Chairman Mao Zedong’s eulogy. She was reportedly moved to tears. Since then, many had sought to find Ms. Wang because it was in her diary that Lei confided his inspiring thoughts and selfless acts.

Every year on March 5 we celebrate Lei Feng Day in China!

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Lantern Festival

Lantern Festival

Falling on the 15th day of the first lunar month, Lantern Festival is the first significant feast after Spring Festival, so called because the most important activity during the night of the event is watching various wonderful Chinese lanterns. And because every household eats Yuanxiao (a rice ball stuffed with different fillings) on that day, it is called Yuan Xiao Festival. For its rich and colorful activities, it is regarded as the most recreational among all the Chinese festivals and a day for appreciating the bright full moon, and family reunion.

With a history of over 2,000 years, various traditional customs and activities are held during Lantern Festival that appeal to people of different ages, including watching lanterns and fireworks, guessing lantern riddles, performing folk dances, and eating Yuanxiao.

During the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), Buddhism flourished in China. So in order to popularize Buddhism, one of the emperors gave an order to light lanterns in the imperial palace to worship and show respect for Buddha on the 15th day of the first lunar month. During the Tang (618 – 907), Song (960 – 1279), Ming (1368 – 1644) and Qing (1644 – 1911) dynasties, lighting lanterns became a tradition for Chinese people.

Today, when the festival comes, red lanterns can be seen in the street, in each house, and store. In the parks, lanterns of various shapes and types attract countless visitors. Visitors marvel that various lanterns so vividly demonstrate traditional Chinese folklore.

Beginning from the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279), guessing riddles is regarded as an indispensable part of the Lantern Festival. People write all kinds of riddles on pieces of paper, and paste them on colorful lanterns to let visitors guess. If one has an answer to a riddle, he can pull the paper to let organizers verify the answer. Gifts are presented to the people who get the right answers. Because this intellectual activity is exciting, people from all walks of life enjoy it.

Derived from the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), the lion dance is an excellent traditional art that adds infinite fun to any celebration including the Lantern Festival. Two performing types have formed during its long development. In north China, the lion dance focuses on skills, and in the south the lion dance pays more attention to the animal resemblance. One actor manipulates a small lion made of quilts resembling a real one, and with two persons acting like a big lion, one manages the head part and the other, the rest. Under the guidance of a director, the lions sometimes jump, leap, and do difficult acts such as walking on stilts.

Because the acting is always amusing, spectators enjoy it very much. According to ancient custom, the lion is a symbol of boldness and strength that can protect people, so by performing the lion dance, everyone prays for an auspicious and happy life.

Walking on stilts, another folk art, traces its origins to the Spring and Autumn period (770BC – 476BC). Performers not only walk on stilts by binding them to their feet, but also do some breathtakingly difficult moves. As actors impersonate different characters like monks, clowns, and fishermen and perform vivid and humorous acts, the art amuses many people.

Yuanxiao, also called Tangyuan, is a dumpling ball made of sticky rice flour stuffed with different fillings. Eating Yuanxiao has become an essential part of the festival. The methods for making Yuanxiao differ by region and fillings include sugar, rose petals, sesame, sweetened bean paste, and jujube paste. Some do not have fillings. Because Tangyuan can be boiled, fried or steamed, and each has a unique taste, it is very popular. Yuanxiao is round in shape so it is endowed with the meaning of reunion, harmony and happiness. During the night of the festival, family members sit together to taste Yuanxiao and appreciate the full moon.

Besides these activities, there is Welcoming Zigu (a kind and poor girl in folklore), in which women make straw and cloth images of Zigu and say consoling words to her expressing people’s goodness and their pity for the poor. Because appreciating the lanterns offers a good chance for young boys and girls to communicate with each other, the Lantern Festival is also regarded as Chinese Valentine’s Day.

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History of the Chinese Spring Festival

History of the Chinese Spring Festival

The Chinese Spring Festival (in the west known as Chinese New Year), started in 2009 on January 26, that means on the 25th all day and night a lot of really great fireworks, you will see the fireworks stands appear two weeks in advance and although there still seems to be a ban on fireworks you can hear all go off regularly.

We live in a really nice location to watch it all, in a complete Chinese district on a high floor of the Sunshine Plaza apartment complex with a view over most of Beijing, and below us a large park and residential area where the Chinese social life takes place, people cooked outside on the street or are in the park to play games with each other talk or just to relax or dance.

It is the biggest festival in China, and all the trees along the roads are gaily lit, and parks filled with hanging lanterns in the trees, all the restaurants and hotels, buildings, bridges, viaducts, are lavishly illuminated and on the houses are many ornaments hanging, the famous lucky charms like the fish and the nodes and of course the Cows in all sizes, the year that comes is the year of the Cow (OX).

Origin of the Chinese Spring Festival

For the Chinese is the Spring Festival the first traditional holiday of the year, in the past called the “New Year” because of the lunar calendar, which has been in use for a long time, assuming this is the first calendar day of the first lunar month ,at the beginning of a new year.

The celebration of the Spring Festival has a history of more than 4000 years, and was established under the Emperor Yao.

One day around 2000 BC Emperor Yao ascended the throne, and taught his staff and servants to pray for heaven and earth, since that time people began to see that day as the beginning of the year, and have set that day as the first day of the first lunar month.

After the 1911 revolution, China has introduced the Gregorian calendar and the lunar New Year changed to “Spring Festival” that based on the Gregorian calendar falls in the period from late January to mid-February.

The night before the Spring Festival is called Chuxi either New Year’s Eve. This is a very important moment for the family, each family comes together over a great New Year Dinner, and many people continue on to the old year to go see the New Year, starting the next day to visit family and friends and bring best wishes for the new year across.

During the Festival the most popular activities are Lions and Dragon dances, boat races, and shall walk.

Legend of the Nian Beast

Nian means year. The legend is that once a hideous horned beast called “Nian” existed throughout the year living deep in the ocean but on New Year’s Eve came up to eat cows and people from a local village, so all people with their elderly and children flight deep into the mountains, then one New Year’s Eve there is an old man brooding in his health walk into the village asking some food from an old woman who lived in the eastern part of the village, he spend the night in her house despite the warning of the danger, at midnight the ‘beast’ comes to the village. 

When the ‘beast’ enters the village it found a different atmosphere, the home of the old woman was surrounded with lights and there was red paper around the doorposts pasted, the beast jumped with a loud roar forward but then stopped and shuddered as he unexpectedly heard the noise and saw the flashes of the fireworks from the garden of the house, but he had the greatest fear for the red color of fire and explosions, at that moment the old man came out through the door in a bright red jacket , loud laughing, the beast was so scared that it ran away in panic and never came back.

Therefore, we see still the habit of paste red paper along all doorposts and fake fireworks crackers hanging on every building, home and family, who are burning candles and stay up all night.

Very important is eating Jiaozi, dumplings, in the west perhaps better known as dim sum, this habit comes from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, the Jiaozi should be prepared before 12 midnight and at the time the clock refers 12 hours to be put on the table.

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Harbin Ice and Snow festival

Harbin Ice and Snow festival

The Festival, established in 1985, is held annually from January 5 and lasts for over one month. Harbin is the capital city of Heilongjiang Province and this is China’s original and greatest ice artwork festival, attracting hundreds of thousands of local people and visitors from all over the world.

The city’s location in northeast China accounts for its arctic climate which provides abundant natural ice and snow. Subsequently, the ‘Ice City’ of Harbin is recognized as the cradle of ice and snow art in China and is famous for its exquisite and artistic ice and snow sculptures. The fabulous Ice Lantern Festival was the forerunner of the current festival and is still the best loved part of the overall event in the opinion of all who go to that city each year.

The first Ice lanterns were a winter-time tradition in northeast China. During the Qing Dynasty(1644 – 1911), the local peasants and fishermen often made and used ice lanterns as jack-lights during the winter months. At that time these were made simply by pouring water into a bucket that was then put out in the open to freeze. It was then gently warmed before the water froze completely so that the bucket-shaped ice could be pulled out. A hole was chiseled in the top and the water remaining inside poured out creating a hollow vessel. A candle was then placed inside resulting in a windproof lantern that gained great popularity in the region around the city.

From then on, people made ice lanterns and put them outside their houses or gave them to children to play with during some of the traditional festivals. Thus the ice lantern began its long history of development. With novel changes and immense advancement in techniques, today we can marvel at the various delicate and artistic ice lanterns on display.

Nowadays, ice lantern in broad sense refers to a series of plastic arts using ice and snow as raw material combining ice artworks with colored lights and splendid music. The specific patterns of ice lantern include sculptures, ice flowers, ice architectures and so on.

The Sun Island Park is the site of the Snow Sculpture Exposition displaying a wonderful snow world. It has the world’s largest indoor ice and snow art museum and it opens to the public from November every year.

Ice and Snow World came into being in 1999 and is one of the world’s largest ice architecture parks. The inspiration for the ice and snow sculptures there usually is derived from traditional Chinese fairy tales or world famous architectures such as the Great Wall, the Egyptian Pyramids, etc.

Ice and Snow Festival in Zhaolin Park, this Park is a ‘must see’ during the Ice Festival because it has a traditional program that shows the most excellent ice lanterns. With water, lights and the natural ice from the Songhua River running through this city as the material, the ice lanterns are made by freezing water, piling up ice or snow, then carving, enchasing, decorating, etc. The ice lantern park touring activities have been held here annually since 1963 and is said to be one of the most wonderful 35 tourist attractions in China. There are numerous pieces of ice artworks in the park arranged in groups according to different themes depicting Chinese classic masterworks, European folktales and customs and so on. A great variety of objects such as buildings, gardens, flowers, waterfalls, European-styled churches, lions, tigers, dragons are carved from ice. In the daytime, the ice sculptures are magnificent and verisimilitude. Moreover, with the interspersion of the sparkling colored lights embedded in the sculptures at night, the park becomes a glorious and amazing ice world.

Today, the Ice Festival is not only an exposition of ice and snow art, but also an annual cultural event for international exchange. Every year, there are many ice sculpture experts, artists and fans from America, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Russia, China, etc. gathering in this city to participate ice sculpting competitions and to communicate with each other in the ice and snow world. Also, Harbin ice lanterns have been exhibited in most of China’s main cities as well as in many countries in Asia, Europe, North America, Africa and Oceania. For more than 40 years, the city’s local natural resource of ice and snow has been fully explored to provide joy and fun for visitors to the city. Now during the festival, many sporting competitions are also popular including ice-skating, sledding and so on. Weddings, parties and other entertainments are now very much a feature of this ice world, adding their own contribution to the celebrations of this great festival of art, culture, sports and tourism.

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Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival is called Duan Wu Jie in Chinese. Jie means festival. The festival is celebrated on the 5th of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar (June 4, 2003).

The most popular theory of the origin of the festival is that it was derived from the activities of commemorating a great patriot poet, Qu Yuan. The story about Qu Yuan has been deeply rooted in Chinese culture and this festival, so it is definitely a very important factor for the origin of the festival.

But since some of the well-known traditions of the festival already existed even before Qu Yuan, other origins of the festival were also suggested. Wen Yiduo suggested that the festival may be associated with dragon closely because two of the most important activities of the festival, dragon boat racing and eating zongzi, are related to dragon. Another view is that the festival is originated from the taboo of evil days. The fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar is traditionally considered an evil month and the 5th of the month is particularly a bad day, so a lot of taboo had been developed. Most likely, the festival was gradually derived from all of the suggestions and the story of Qu Yuan is certainly the driving power to make it a great festival today.

Like other Chinese festivals, there is also a legend behind the festival. Qu Yuan served in the court of Emperor Huai during the Warring States (475 – 221 BC). He was a wise and erudite man. His ability and fight against corruption antagonized other court officials. They exerted their evil influence on the Emperor, so the Emperor gradually dismissed Qu Yuan and eventually exiled him. During his exile, Qu Yuan did not give up. He traveled extensively, taught and wrote about his ideas. His works, the Lament (Li Sao), the Nine Chapters (Jiu Zhang), and Wen Tian, are masterpieces and invaluable for studying ancient Chinese culture. He saw the gradual decline of his mother country, the Chu State. And when he heard that the Chu State was defeated by the strong Qin State, he was so despaired that he ended his life by flinging himself into the Miluo River.

Legend says after people heard he drowned, they were greatly dismayed. Fishermen raced to the spot in their boats to search for his body. Unable to find his body, people threw zongzi, eggs and other food into the river to feed fish, so hoped to salvage his body. Since then, people started to commemorate Qu Yuan through dragon boat races, eating zongzi and other activities, on the anniversary of his death, the 5th of the fifth month.

Zongzi is the most popular food for the festival. Zongzi is a special kind of dumpling. It is usually made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves. Fresh bamboo leaves are the best for the wrapping since the taste and smell of the fresh bamboo leaves is part of zongzi. Unfortunately fresh bamboo leaves are hard to find. Today you may see zongzi in different shapes and with a variety of fillings. The most popular shapes are triangular and pyramidal. The fillings include dates, meat, yolk of egg, etc. The most popular fillings are dates. The festival is closely associated with zongzi and dragon boat races. More importantly this is also a national patriot festival through commemorating the great patriot poet, Qu Yuan. People are reminded that the importance of loyalty and commitment to the community in the festival.

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Chongyang Festival

Chongyang Festival

Double Ninth Festival, also known as Chongyang Festival, is held on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month.  It is also known as the Senior Citizens’ Festival. According to records from the mysterious book Yi Jing, the number 6 belonged to the Yin character while the number 9 was thought to be of the Yang character. So, on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, both day and month are Yang characters. Therefore, the festival was named the Double Ninth Festival. In ancient times, people believed that the double ninth day was worth a celebration. Since folk people had the tradition of climbing a mountain on that day, the Chongyang Festival is also called the Height Ascending Festival. The Chongyang Festival also has other names, such as the Chrysanthemum Festival. As “double ninth” is pronounced the same as the word meaning “forever,” ancestors are also worshipped on that day.

The Double Ninth Festival can be traced back to the Warring States Period. During the Tang Dynasty, the Double Ninth Festival was on official lists of folk festivals. During the Chongyang Festival, people went outside and climbed mountains together, and engaged in many other activities, such as enjoying the chrysanthemum, eating Chongyang cakes inserting Zhuyu (fruits of the medicinal plant Evodia rutaecarpa), and drinking chrysanthemum wines, among others.

Like other traditional festivals, Chongyang Festival also has ancient legends. During the East Han Dynasty, there was a devil of the plague in the Ruhe River. As long as it showed up, people got sick and even died. People living around the Ruhe River suffered a lot from the disease ravaged by demons.

There lived a man named Huan Jing. His parents died from the plague and he almost died. After he recovered, Huan Jing decided to learn the magic arts and killed the devil of the plague. Huan Jing heard that there an immortal lived in the eastern area. He took a long journey and finally found the immortal. The immortal was moved by his behavior and taught Huan Jing how to kill the devil of the plague.

One day, the immortal told Huan Jing that the devil of the plague would show up again on the ninth day of the ninth month, and he asked Huan Jing to go back to kill it. When Huan Jing went back, he asked the whole family to go to a mountain and sent everyone a Zhuyu leaf and a glass of chrysanthemum wine. When the devil of the plague emerged from the water, it got dizzy from the scent of the Zhuyu and the chrysanthemum. At that time, Huan Jing took the sword and killed the devil of the plague. Since then, climbing mountains has become a custom on the Double Ninth Festival.

The Double Ninth Festival is a golden time of the year. The first person who purportedly enjoyed chrysanthemum and drank chrysanthemum wine on the Chongyang Festival was the poet Tao Yuanming, who lived during the Jin Dynasty. Tao Yuanming, famous for his poems, enjoyed chrysanthemum. Many people followed his suit, drinking chrysanthemum wine and enjoying chrysanthemum, which became a custom. During the Song Dynasty, enjoying chrysanthemum became popular and was an important activity on this festival day. After the Qing Dynasty, people went crazy for chrysanthemum, not only during the Chongyang Festival, but also at other times by going outside and enjoying the plant.

New Meaning of Chongyang Festival; as nine is pronounced ‘jiu’ meaning long in Chinese, so people endow the word jiu with the meaning of longevity with a person’s life. In the year of 1989, Chongyang Festival was designated as Senior’s Day a day to respect the elderly and to let them enjoy themselves. Many companies organize groups where retired people can go out to climb mountains or on other outings. Members of a family also accompany their elders to have a relaxing day in a natural setting while wishing health and happiness upon them.

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