Chinese Traditional Festivals are dated on the Chinese Lunar calendar. The dates of each festival in each year are varied. Elements common to all Chinese festivals are expression of a desire for happiness and wellbeing, the warding off misfortune, experiencing a oneness between man and heaven, and family reunion.
The rhythm of China's traditional festivals was set by the sowing and reaping of crops. Chinese New Year, for example, comes in winter, when farmers are unable to work in the field; the Lantern Festival marks the conclusion of the Chinese New Year season; Tomb Weeping Day comes between spring plowing and summer weeding; the Dragon Boat Festival occurs after one of the harvests of the year is completed; the Mid-Autumn Festival comes around the final harvest of the year.
The major Chinese traditional festivals are:
Chinese New Year, the first day of Chinese Lunar calendar, is the most important holiday in China. It starts with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later.
The Chinese New Year date is determined by the lunar calendar and the timing of the 1st day of a lunar year varies from late January to early February.
The 15th day of the Chinese New Year is called the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night with lantern displays.
Chinese started to celebrate the Lantern Festival from the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. - 221 A.C.). The Lantern Festival is also called Yuanxiao Jie . Yuanxiao is the typical food people on this festival. It is made of glutinous rice floor filled with sugar, honey, fruits and nuts. Yuanxiao is sticky, sweet and round in shape, symbolizing family unity, completeness and happiness. " It is believed that Yuanxiao is named after a palace maid, Yuanxiao, of Emperor Wu Di of the Han Dynasty. "
Traditionally calculated as the 106th day after the Winter Solstice. It also is called the Qing-ming (clear and bright). Now it is celebrated annually on April 5th, or April 4th in a leap year. On this day, entire families go to visit their forebears' resting places. Graves are swept, fresh flowers placed. A quantity of good food and wine is arranged on a tray and placed in front of the tomb. Offerings of sacrificial paper money are burned in the belief that they will be transformed into real bullion, passing through the wisps of smoke into the invisible world.
This is a festival in May of Chinese Lunar calendar. "Since the summer is a time when diseases most easily spread, Dragon Boat Festival began as an occasion for driving off evil spirits and pestilence and for finding peace in one's life. The festival was later enriched by the legend of the patriot Qu Yuan (or call Chu Yuan).
On this day people eat Zong-zi (glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or lotus leaves, stuffed with ham, beans, bean paste, dates, salted egg yokes, sausages, nuts, and/or vegetables. It could be salty or sweet).
It is the seventh night of the seventh month in lunar calendar. The festival comes out of one of the famous Chinese legend. "It is one of the more romantic Chinese festivals. It also is a time to emphasise the joy and beauty of love; it is also an occasion to reiterate and demonstrate appreciation and care for one's beloved."
The Ghost festival is also called Half July (Lunar). It is a popular occasion celebrated throughout China on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month. It is a time set aside for ghosts to be abroad in the land, and for mortals to be especially hospitable to them. Humans do everything in their power, either through fear or respect, to make this yearly sojourn as pleasant as possible for their spectral visitors.
Displeased or angered ghosts have the ability to wreak havoc on the living.
This festival happens on the 15th of August in Chinese Lunar Calendar and it is a day in either September or October in Western Calendar. The moon is round on that day. The round shape to a Chinese means family reunion. Therefore the Moon Festival is a holiday for members of a family to get together wherever it is possible.
Why should people celebrate the moon in mid-Autumn? It is because of a story happened long long time ago in China.
People have moon-cake at this Festival. So many times people call this festival as Moon-cake Festival. Moon-cakes are made of flour filled with good ingredients, such as many kinds of sweet paste, nuts, dried fruits.