By: Ryan Tan
Chinese New Year
The Chinese legend says that in ancient times there was a strange beast called "nian" with a long head and sharp horn and it was extremely fierce. "Nian" dwelled deep in the sea the whole year, but on every New Year's Eve it would climb onto the shore to devour livestock and harm humans. Because of it, on every New Year's Eve, all the villagers would go deep into the mountains to hide from harm from "nian."
On New Year's eve one year, as the people were all busy collecting their possessions in preparation for their retreat to the mountains, a grey haired man appeared (who they later learned was a deity who came to help them). He said he would chase the beast away in one night but no one believed him.
When the beast arrived at the village to wreck havoc as usual, it was met with a sudden sound of exploding firecrackers. "Nian" was shivering all over and dared not proceed any further as it was most frightened by red color, flames, and explosive sounds. At that moment the large door opened wide and the old man, wearing red clothes, laughed heartily. "Nian" was startled and fled! The villagers found three precious items the old man used to chase away the beast. Since then on New Year's eve families would hang up red banners, set off fire crackers, and light their lamps, awaiting the New Year.
The Lantern Festival
Every year on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, Chinese people celebrate the traditional Lantern Festival.
The first month of the lunar calendar is known as the "yuan" month, and the ancient Chinese people call nights "xiao," so the fifteenth day of the first lunar month is known as the "Yuan Xiao Festival" (also known as the Lantern Festival). That night is the first full moon of the year and that is also the first night when spring returns to the great earth. From historical recordings, it is known that people in the Western Han Dynasty (206 to 6 BC) were already celebrating the "Lantern Festival."
During the Lantern Festival, people light lanterns in different colors and designs for others to admire.
The Dragon Boat Festival
The fifth day of the fifth lunar month is a traditional Chinese holiday known as the Dragon Boat Festival.
More than two thousand years ago, during the period of the Spring-Autumn Warring States, the Chinese people celebrated the Dragon Boat Festival. According to historians, the Dragon Boat Festival originated from the totem festival in the state of Wuyue in southern China. But people generally attribute the holiday as a memorial to the Chinese poet Qu Yuan, who was a Minister in the State of Chu during the Spring-Autumn period.
The Mid-Autumn Festival (15th day of the eighth lunar month)
The Mid-Autumn Festival day is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month annually. It takes place in the middle of autumn and is hence known as "the mid-autumn festival." The moon on that night is said to be the roundest and brightest of the entire year. Hence it is also known as the "Eighth Month Festival." People traditionally gather that night to look at the brilliant moon and think of their relatives far away. Therefore the mid-autumn festival is also known as "the Reunion Festival."
The round moon cakes symbolize the fulfillment of their hope for the family reunion.
The Winter Solstice
The Winter Solstice is a very important day, marking one of the 24 divisions in the Chinese calendar year. There are still many places in China that observe the Winter Solstice or Winter Festival.
The Winter Solstice is the day in the whole year where the day is shortest and the night is the longest in the northern hemisphere. The celebration began in the Han Dynasty.