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People and Social Customs

China Festivals and Public Holidays

Spring Festival, China tour informationSpring Festival

Spring Festival is the most important festival in China. The celebration marks the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year. It is usually celebrated in late January or early February. 'Jiaozi' or dumplings shaped like crescent moons, is the favorite food on that special day. The Dragon Dance and Lion Dance are traditionally performed.

Lantern Festival

Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month. It is closely related to Spring Festival. This is the first time people see the full moon in the New Year. It is traditionally Lantern Festival, China tour informationa time for family reunions. It is customary to eat special sweet dumplings called Yuanxiao, round balls made of glutinous rice flour stuffed with sugar fillings. Beautiful lanterns are displayed. This custom of enjoying lanterns dates back to the firstcentury, and has continued to be popular throughout China up to the present day. On this festive night many cities hold lantern fairs to display exotic and sometimes weirdly shaped, multi-colored lanterns. In rural areas local people gather together and enjoy themselves as spectators and participants setting off fireworks, walking on stilts, performing with dragon lanterns, folk dancing and playing on swings.


Qingming, meaning pure and bright, is the day set aside for people to offer sacrifices to their ancestors. Nowadays it is customary to visit the tombs of the martyrs of the revolution to pay respects. Qingming falls in early April every year, when the weather has turned warmer and the earth is green. Friends like to go together to the outskirts of the city to walk in the green grass, fly kites and appreciate the beauty of spring. That is why Qingming is sometimes called the 'Stepping on Greenery Festival'.

Duanwu or Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. It is Duanfu Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, China tour informationbelieved that the festival originated to celebrate the memory of the ancient patriotic poet Qu Yuan. Qu Yuan, a native of the State of Chu during the Warring States Period, repeatedly offered his king proposals aimed at forestalling political corruption. Subsequently, slandered by treacherous court officials, he was sent into exile by the same king he had tried to help. In 278 B.C., the capital of the State of Chu was lost to its enemy the State of Qin, and Qu Yuan drowned himself in despair on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.

For thousands of years, the Duanwu Festival has been characterized by dragon boat racing, and eating Zongzi, a kind of pyramid-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves.

Mid-Autumn Festival

One of the most important Chinese festivals is the Mid-Autumn Festival. It falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. Because the full moon is especially bright and symbolizes reunion, the Mid-Autumn Festival is also known as the festival of reunion. People in different parts of China have different ways of celebrating, but one traditional custom, common to all Chinese, is that whole families sit together beneath the moonlight, eating moon-shaped cakes and appreciating the beauty of the fully rounded moon.

Chongyang Festival

The Chongyang Festival is known as Double Nine Day in China. According to Chinese folklore, nine is the number belonging to the positive principle 'yang,' the word is also homophonous with the word for a 'long time.' This number has come to represent longevity. Therefore, it is a special day for people to pay their respects to the elderly and a day for the elderly to enjoy themselves. This festival is usually perfect for outdoor activities. Many people go hiking and climbing in the country on that day.

National Day Chongyang Festival

October 1st is the National Day of the People's Republic of China. There are various celebrations throughout the whole country on that day, such as the National Day evening performance, the National Day fireworks show, the National Day parade and the National Day flag raising ceremony.

Ghost Festival

Ghost Festival, similar to Halloween in the West, is called Half July in Chinese. It is a popular occasion celebrated throughout China on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month. Historically families offer sacrifices of the newly harvested grain to departed ancestors. Ghost Festival is supposedly a time when the ghosts come back to earth to feast on the fare offered by the living. In some areas of China, visitors can see small roadside fires where believers burn paper money and other offerings to appease the restless spirits who have temporarily been released from the underworld.

Lunar Calendar Date English Name Date in 2010
Last day of lunar year The Zhuang Song Festival Feb 14
1st day of 1st lunar month Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) Feb 15
15th day of 1st lunar month Lantern Festival Feb 28
At the jie qi known as qing ming, (around April 5) Qing Ming Jie (Tomb Sweeping Day) April 5
5th day of 5th lunar month Dragon Boat Festival (Dragon Festival) June 16
7th day of 7th lunar month The Night of Sevens Aug 16
15th day of 8th lunar month Mid-Autumn Festival Sept 22
9th day of 9th lunar month Double Ninth Festival Oct 16

Chinese Minority Nationalities' Holidays

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