Chinese Festivals

Chinese holidays are celebrated according to the Lunar calendar.  These holidays are of great cultural significance to the Chinese.

Most Chinese holidays have ties to Chinese folk religion and ancestor worship.  While not all Chinese who participate in the ceremonies associated with the worship of ancestors believe in folk religion, they are a time of family unity and respect.

Chinese New Years/Spring Festival

Chinese New Years is by far the most well-known Chinese holiday, and also the most significant to Chinese culture.  Also known as The Spring Festival, observation of the holiday actually begins the day before the beginning of the Lunar Year.  The mode of celebration varies from province to province, different areas having their own specific traditions.  Listed below are some of the customs associated with New Years.

The day before the Spring Festival, there is a lot of cleaning and preparation done.  Offerings to the Kitchen God, g a, are commonly made in hopes that he will give a good report to the Emperor of Heaven ( )  That night is a special gathering when the whole family gets together and eat a particularly large dinner.

The following three or four days are public holidays.  Most businesses close and time is spent paying formal visits to friends.  Visitors bring a gift (generally a box of chocolate, nuts, or a tin of cookies) and are given a gift of greater value by the hosts.  Married couples give little red packet envelopes to children and unmarried friends when greeted with a phrase wishing them prosperity in the New Years ( o ]   Mandarin -Gong- ~Xi~ -Fa- /Cai/  Cantonese \Gung\ /Hei/ Faat \Choih\)

While the majority of the holiday is observed in the first 3 or 4 days of the New Year, the first 10 days of the year are all part of the festival, however in practice this is just additional time to get in visits to friends.  During this time, many Chinese people take trips to the city or province where they were born.  

Certain foods take on special names to celebrate the New Year (for example: chicken is called phoenix), visitors are often treated to fruits and seeds, and people buy new clothes.  

During prosperous times, entirely new furnishings may be bought.  In the holiday, negative words, such as death, should be avoided.  In fact, gifts of four and the word four is also often not used because it sounds like the word for death.

Mid-Autumn Festival

This holiday falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese New Year.   During this celebration, Chinese people eat moon-cakes and spend the evening outdoors enjoying the beauty of the full moon.  Additionally, children take paper lanterns out and play with them.

The Dragon Boat Festival

This colorful holiday is host to dragon boat races.  Ornately shaped boats are rowed in international competitions watched by spectators.  It occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Lunar calendar. Rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves  are eaten and colorful paper ornaments are displayed to commemorate the death of a great Chinese patriot.  This statesman and poet lost his position as an advisor due to treachery and in a drunken stupor drowned.  The people, unable to save him, showed their care for him by casting bright color decoys and food into the water so the fish would leave his body alone.

Double 9 - Chung Yeung Festival

Called Double 9 because it occurs on the 9th day of the 9th month, this is an important religious day.  During this time many people go to the mountain shrines to worship their ancestors.  This traditionally is in remembrance of a man who saved his family from disaster by taking them into the mountains.

Other Festivals

There are several other Chinese festivals, such as Chinese Valentines Day and the Ching Ming Festival. which are of different importance and celebrated differently in the various provinces and Chinese communities.

Festival Greeting E-Cards

Several sites offer online greeting cards.  Below are links to greeting e-cards for specific Chinese holidays from a collaborating website.

Dragon Boat Festival E-Cards


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