China has a long history and one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Every day, many interesting things happen in this marvelous land. There are many traditional festival days in China. The best and the most efficient way to learn Chinese culture and language is that join in with a local family to celebrate the Chinese traditional festivals.
Chinese Spring Festival Day
The Spring Festival is the most important festival for Chinese people and it is when all family members get together, just like Christmas in the West. All people who live very far away to go back home to celebrate it. Usually Chinese Spring Festival falls on 1st January in lunar month, and often one month later than Gregorian calendar. It lasts from 1st January to 15th January. During the 15 days, the most important is New Years Eve and the first three days.
On New years Eve, the family gets together to sit around the table to eat dinner. The food is cooked in a local way and authentic local flavours. Some of the food you can’t find for sale in the local markets and stalls. Such as: Bacon and sausage, which is made by local people and very different from the Bacon you buy in market. In the 60s or 70s, people celebrated New Year's Eve at home. As the economy rapidly developed, nowadays, Chinese prefer to have New Year's dinner at hotels or restaurants, especially in big cities like Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing. If you would like to experience traditional home cooked food, you should visit a friend of a family in a small town. After the family dinner, people will have many kinds of activities to enjoy themselves. Such as: playing bridge, Mahjong, watch CCTV Spring Festival Gala, sit beside the fire and chat, eating, some of the younger generation will go to KTV, etc. People don’t go to sleep after midnight, because they are all waiting for the most important moment- twelve o’clock, at that time every family will let off fireworks and firecrackers, which will last for one hour. After letting off fireworks, people will say many kind words to each other, Such as “All the best for you” “Best wishes for a prosperous new year” and of course “Happy new year”. Chinese people also give red envelopes with money inside to children when the children say good words to them. It is very different from the west. Presents are not generally offered for children, because they all love the red envelopes. Red envelopes are symbolic to grow up healthy and offer good luck for the coming year.
On the first day of the New Year, everybody dresses up. First they extend greetings to their parents and relatives. People in Northern China will eat Jiaozi, or dumplings, for breakfast, as they believe the sound of "jiaozi" means "bidding farewell to the old and ushering in the new". Also, the shape of the dumpling looks like gold bars from ancient China. People eat them and wish for money and good fortune. Southern Chinese eat Niangao (New Year cake made of glutinous rice flour) on this occasion, because as a homophone, Niangao means "higher and higher, one year after another." After breakfast, an important tradition on New Year's Day is to decorate couplets. The couplets have different contexts with Chinese calligraphy with black characters on red paper. Chinese people take part in many activities to celebrate the Spring Festival; all hoping for a prosperous New Year.
I sincerely recommend those who teaching in China and those who like Chinese traditional culture, should make time to go to the local Chinese families to celebrate Chinese Spring Festival Day.
The Qingming Festival Day
The Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb Sweeping Day or Ching Ming Is a traditional Chinese festival on the first day of the fifth solar term of the traditional Chinese solar calendar. On that day, people will go to tombs to hold a memorial ceremony. The tombs are very luxurious and located in very convenient places.
People live in towns or countryside usually need to climb high mountains and bring many food with them as well. Climbing hundreds of miles across mountain roads to hold ceremonies for their ancestors is very important and exciting for Chinese people. The food they bring usually includes a whole pig, in Chinese tradition, the main reason that they can live a good life is due to their ancestors prayers. Qingming Festival Day in China is very solemn, usually; we don’t invite friends to join in with the ceremony, especially as its to do with ancestors. However, some famous people's tomb and ceremonies are public, such as Sun Yan-sen, President Mao etc.
Dragon boat Festival
The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival is a significant holiday celebrated in China, and the one with the longest history. The festival is cerebrating the patriotic poet, Chu Yuan. He drowned on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in 277 B.C. Chinese citizens now throw bamboo leaves filled with cooked rice into the water. Therefore the fish could eat the rice rather than the hero poet. This later on turned into the custom of eating Zongzi.
The Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated by boat races in the shape of dragons. Competing teams row their boats forward to a drumbeat racing to reach the finish end first. It is very interesting and exciting and is held across all of China. Eating Zongzi and watching boat races are an indispensable part of life on Dragon boat Festival Day.