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Traditional Chinese Holidays

Last time we talked about the Chinese holidays recognized by law. Following are the traditional holidays not put in law, but observed by a lot of people.

元宵节 -- Yuanxiao or
Lantern Festival, Jan. 15 in Chinese Lunar calendar (正月十五). People will eat rice dumpling ball at the day. It is called Yuan Xiao (元宵) at north or Tang Yuan (汤圆) at south. Sometime, the date is also called Shangyuan Festival (上元节).

寒食节 - Hanshi Festival, April 4 in Chinese Lunar calendar (四月四). People will not cook food at the day. A major holiday 2000 years ago, it's less important now. People like hot food better.

姑姑节 - Gugu Fesitival, June 6 in Chinese lunar calendar (六月六). The wives need to visit their parents at the date. It's getting less popular now.

七夕节 - Qixi or Qiqiao (乞巧) Festival, July 7 in Chinese Lunar calendar (七月七). This is the date most important for young ladies. They need to wear new clothes, pray the Zhi Nv star (织女星), and ask for great housekeeping skills. The date is also considered as Chinese Valentine.

中元节 - Zhong Yuan or Gui (鬼, ghost) Festival, July 15 in Chinese Lunar calendar (七月十五). A holiday celebrated by human for ghosts, also called Yulanpen Festival (盂兰盆节). It is more popular in Japan nowadays than in China.

重阳节 - Chongyang Festival, Sept. 9 in Chinese lunar calendar (九月初九). People drink daisy wine, wear Zhuyu flowers, climb mountains, and prey for longevity.

腊八节 - Laba Festival, Dec. 12 in Chinese lunar calendar (腊月初八). People will offer sacrifice to ancestor and gods to protect the harvest of next year. Laba conge (腊八粥) will be served in the day.

小年 - Mini New Year, Dec. 23 in Chinese lunar calendar (腊月二十三). Get ready for New Year. Again, people need to eat something special. It is candy melon (糖瓜),a kind of sticky and yellowish candy. They also need to put it on the mouth of the kitchen god, the nominal family head. So the god will only talk sweet then.

Of course, as the clock point to the third millennium, a lot of western holidays are introduced and celebrated by many Chinese people now. For example, Valentine's day, Mother's day, Father's day, Christmas, etc. Also, there are many holidays that are originally associated to a specific ethnic group, and now are recognized by local government or celebrated in a limited area, such as Torch Festival (火把节), Water Pouring Festival (泼水节), Tibet New Year, Ramadan, etc.

About the Author:

Dr. Zhang is the founder of , an online school that provide 1-on-1 immersion Chinese courses at your home, with teachers teaching from China directly