Archives For Festival

In China, by far the largest holiday is the Lunar New Year, called the Spring Festival or Chun Jie in Chinese. It is based on the moon, so it doesn’t happen on the same day each year. It occurs at the end of January or the first of February. Some of the main customs surrounding Chun Jie are cleaning your home, eating jaozi (dumplings,) and parents giving a child a red envelope full of money. A couple of the lesser-known traditions involve getting a haircut and taking a shower to wash away anything bad.

As you would imagine, in China there will be lots of fireworks all day and night surrounding their holiday, or at least that is how it was in the past. Now there is a ban on fireworks, which is being done to improve the air quality. Honestly, that will be a hard ban to enforce!

Many people receive an extended vacation to celebrate this huge holiday. In fact, it is known as the largest annual migration of people, when all of the city workers travel back to their rural hometowns to visit their families.

This new year is called the year of the dog, and gou is how you say dog in Chinese. I will display a paper cut-out symbol for the year of the dog for you to enjoy.

happy-new-year

Happy Spring Festival to all of my Chinese friends!

 

One of the holidays celebrated in China during the fall is called the Mid-Autumn Festival or “Zhong qiu jie.” I have celebrated many of them in China, and one thing I can always count on is there being many moon cakes sold, served, and given as gifts. So, have you seen a moon cake?

Have You Ever Heard of Moon Cakes?

I think you can tall from the photograph above how they got their name! Moon cakes come in two main styles: one has a very flaky white exterior, and the other has a golden exterior with a beautiful design. The filling within the cake can have many different exotic flavors.

The ones I like the best are strawberry and fig. I have also had some that were made with pecans, and another type with peanuts that was quite tasty as well, but that is about my limit of the ones I have enjoyed. I have had various ones with filled with some type of cream filling in either white, pink, or violet. Honestly, I have no idea what is in some of the moon cakes — but they are still a beautiful gift to receive!

Have You Ever Heard of Moon Cakes?

The moon cakes above were for sale at a local street market. I am not sure what fillings they had, but they looked delicious that rainy morning!

Have You Ever Heard of Moon Cakes?

As you can see, the moon cakes can come in different colors and packaging. The Chinese are wonderful hosts, so they enjoy giving the foreigners moon cakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival.

If you are ever around China during the “Zhong qiu jie,” you simply must try a moon cake. It is one of the great traditions of China, and 1.4 billion people can’t be wrong!

Have you ever had moon cakes?

Last week, I was in China and I had the honor of celebrating the Dragon Riverboat Festival with some very good Chinese friends. The festival is called “Duan Wu Jie” in Chinese; it is held to celebrate a poet and patriot, Qu Yuan.

Admittedly, I don’t know enough about Chinese history to teach it, but I do know that, from what I have heard, Qu Yuan would have to be one of the most respected people in Chinese history. Here is his story (…and I must thank the University of Missouri for some of this information):

Qu Yuan was a famous Chinese poet who lived 2300 years ago in State of Chu during the Warring States Period. Qu Yuan was a versatile government official at that time. He was highly esteemed for his wise counsel among the common people.

The King did not like Qu Yuan’s straightforwardness and some jealous officials said bad words behind his back. Sentenced for slander, Qu Yuan was exiled by the King. After his banishment to the remote countryside, Qu Yuan helplessly watched the gradual downfall of Chu and grieved that he could no longer serve his people. Out of despair, Qu Yuan plunged himself into the Miluo River. In order to keep his body safe in the water, many people threw Zongzi into the river to prevent the fish from eating his body.

Nowadays, Zongzi has become a symbol for Chinese people to express their homage to Qu Yuan’s spirits, such as his patriotism and selflessness. The ritual of eating Zongzi and racing dragon boats helps pass on this tradition.

To articulate his grand love of his motherland, Qu Yuan began to compose beautiful patriotic poems that are now held as masterpieces. He swore to live together or die with his beloved country… and he fulfilled that promise when the fall of the capital burst his last hope.

So, you must be asking yourself, what is Zongzi? Well, that is the sticky rice that is cooked in bamboo leaves and shaped in a triangle. A word of warning to you, if you are not skilled with chopsticks, I promise you your hands, face, and probably clothes will become sticky while eating Zongzi!

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