Traditional Chinese festivals range from the quiet and dignified to colorful free-for-alls with booming gongs and cymbals and frantic dancers in dragon and lion costumes. Most are based on the Chinese lunar calendar and so the actual date differs from year to year.
Confucius's birthday First we'll look at the birthday of Confucius in September. Though celebrated all over China, you can best experience this event in Confucius's home of Qufu, specifically at the Confucius Temple. Confucius is revered in China for being a thinker, social philosopher and teacher. He spent his life in poverty and relative obscurity, and his teachings were only written down and disseminated by his disciples after his death. Celebrations for Confucius's birthday start at 4 a.m. in the Confucius temple. Ceremonies are modest as befitting a man who taught moderation. Celebrants pay their respects and offer flowers at the temple altars. Festivities can also include musical performances with traditional instruments, together with dancing and the wearing of traditional costumes.
Beijing International Kite Now to Beijing for an event of a very different kind, the Beijing International Kite Festival held in April, the windiest month in the Chinese capital. Kite flying has been a part of Chinese culture for millennia both as a leisure activity and a tool in warfare. Wei Fang in Shandong province is the major kite flying area in China but Beijing holds an annual international kite festival. Starting off with a colorful ceremony, the Beijing International Kite Festival showcases fine examples of kites from the last century and experts talk about their features and regale visitors with kite lore and anecdotes. The event attracts kite-flying teams from all over the world.
Chinese New Year Finally to Hong Kong to the biggest bash in the Chinese festival calendar, Chinese New Year. It's a time of wailing Chinese opera performances, pounding drums, fireworks and feasts, writhing lions and dancing dragons, fortune telling and grand parades. Chinese New Year starts on the first new moon day of the year and ends with the Lantern Festival fourteen days later. It falls between mid-January and mid-February. It's a time when the industrious Chinese put their feet up for a few days of family reunion, thanksgiving, feasting and going to temple. People clean their homes and hang red lanterns out front. Veneration of ancestors is at the heart of Chinese New Year. On New Year's Eve, they are offered a Banquet at the family dinner table. In Hong Kong the festival kicks off with a parade between Admiralty and Wanchai, a grand firework display over Victoria Harbour, and the territory's skyscrapers are lit up more than usual and decorated with lights and motifs. The temples are busy and the red envelopes known as Lai See containing "lucky money" are given to family and friends.
If you're lucky enough to be in China on festival day, you have a treat in store. Not only will you have a great deal of fun, but you'll witness something very special in the lives of the people. The only difficulty with visiting the events in Canada might be your accommodation. Be sure to have a reservation, because Beijing hotels or Hong Kong hotels could be fully booked during the festivals. Of course the Internet offers many opportunities to book China hotels in advance.
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