Author: oggyjj

Chinese Traditional Festivals [Copy link] 中文

Post time 2004-10-23 12:54:43 |Display all floors

7.The Ghost Festival--Half July

Just as the West has Halloween for ghosts and ghouls, so also does Chinese have a holiday to fete the departed spirits of the underworld-The Ghost Festival. Ghosts roam the world every year for a lunar month, it is said. In some areas of China, visitors can see small roadside fires, where believers burn paper money and other offerings to appease the restless spirits, who have temporarily been released from Hades.

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 will be 25th Augest this year.

Historically, families offer sacrifices of the newly harvested grain to departed ancestors on this day, which also coincides with the Buddhist Ullambana (Deliverance) Festival and the Taoist Ghost Festival. Since each of these traditions in some way honors the spirits of the departed, the seventh lunar month has come to be known as Ghost Month, celebrated as a time when the "Good Brethren" (ghosts from the underworld) come back to earth to feast on the victuals offered by the living. Over time the Ullambana Festival and Ghost Festival have melded together to become the present day Chung Yuan Putu or "Mid-origin Passage to Universal Salvation."

The Chinese believe that the dead become ghosts roaming between Heaven and earth. Spirits without descendants to care for them are prayed to during Ghost Festival so that they may also enjoy the warmth of life among the living. This custom, an extension of the traditional Chinese ethic of "universal love," has been woven together with the didactic legend "Moginlin Saving His Mother From Hades," giving Ghost Festival positive significance as a time for remembering the importance of filial piety. People now have taken releasing river light as a important activity at the time. It is said that the river light can conform and warm the homeless ghosts.

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Post time 2004-10-23 12:56:42 |Display all floors

8.Moon Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Chinese Moon Cake Festival, is traditionally celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth moon in the Chinese lunar calendar. In Chinese, the holiday is called Zhong Ciu Jie.

The theme of the Mid-Autumn Festival is to celebrate the glories and mysteries of the moon. The sun and the moon had long been the object of human curiosity and worship. In the early days of various cultures, the sun and moon were commonly held as deities. This occurrence was very natural since the sun and the moon were the most easily available objects for worship. According to the Han dynasty emperor Wu Di (157-87 B.C.), the sun and the moon were considered as the chief objects of veneration.

Ancient Chinese mythology and legends also suggest that the moon produces fertility in the earth. All around the world, autumn is the season when crops and grains are harvested. It is during this time that the moon’s importance is most highly recognized. The ancient Chinese believed that the moon embodied the feminine principle of “ying” and the sun embodied the masculine principle of “yang.” And thus, traditionally, only women took part in the rituals associated with the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Consequently, it should not be strange that the most famous of legends that accompany the Mid-Autumn Festival is a feminine one. The legend of Chang Er has been passed down from generation to generation.
Chang Er was a gorgeous young maiden that worked in the Jade Emperor’s palace in Heaven, where immortals and fairies lived. But, the Jade Emperor became angered when Chang Er accidentally broke a porcelain vase. He punished her by banishing her to live on earth, where mortals lived. She was allowed to return to Heaven only if she could make a valuable contribution on earth.

Chang Er was transformed into a daughter of a poor farming family. When she was eighteen years old, she became friends with Hou Yi, a young hunter from a nearby village. One day, a strange phenomenon occurred – ten suns rose in the sky instead of only one. The ten suns violently blazed the earth.
Hou Yi was an excellent archer, so he volunteered to save the earth. He was successful in shooting down the nine extra suns. Hou Yi instantly became a hero. Eventually he became king and married Chang Er.
But, Hou Yi slowly grew to become a despot. He ordered an elixir to be made so that he could become immortal. The elixir was almost ready when Chang Er accidentally swallowed it. This angered King Hou Yi. Chang Er escaped by jumping out the window of a chamber at the top of the palace. Instead of falling, she floated into the sky toward the moon. King Hou Yi tried to shoot her down with arrows without success.
Once Chang Er reached the moon, the Queen Mother transformed Chang Er into a three-legged toad. Chang Er’s companion, a rabbit, is constantly pounding the elixir of immortality in a gigantic mortar.
King Hou Yi eventually ascended to the sun and built a palace there. Chang Er and Hou Yi came to represent the “ying” and the “yang” – the moon and the sun.

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Post time 2004-10-23 13:04:51 |Display all floors

9.Double Nineth Festival

The festival is based on the theory of Yin and Yang, the two opposing principles in nature. Yin is feminine, negative principle, while Yang is masculine and positive. The ancients believed that all natural phenomena could be esplained by this theory. Numbers are related to this theory. Even numbers belong to Yin and odd numbers to Yang. The ninth day of the ninth lunar month is a day when the two Yang numbers meet. So it is called Chongyang. Chong means double in Chinese. Chongyang has been an important festival since ancient times.

The festival is held in the golden season of autumn, at harvest -time. The brght clear weather and the joy of bringing in the harvest make for a festive happy atmosphere.The Double Ninth Festival is usually perfect for outdoor activities. Many people go hiking and climbing in the country, enjoying Mother Nature's final burst of color before she puts on her dull winter cloak. Some will carry a spray of dogwood.

It is hard to say when these customs were created. But there are many stories which are closely related. The bookXu Qi Xie Ji ,written by Wu Jun in the sixth century has one such story. In ancient times, there lived a man named Huan Jing. He was learning the magic arts from Fei Changfang, who had become an immortal after many years of practicing Taoism. One day, the two were climbing a muntain. Fei Changfang suddenly stopped and looked very upset. He told Huan Jing,On the ninth day of the ninth month, disaster will come to your hometown. You must go home immediately. Remember to make a red bag for each one of your family members and put a spray of dogwood in every one. Then you must all tie your bags to your arms, leave home quickly and climb to the top of a mountain. Most importantly, you must all drink some chrysanthemum wine. Only by doing so can your family avoid this disaster.

On hearing this, Huan Jing rushed home and asked his family to do exactly as his teacher said. The whole family climbed a nearby mountain and did not return until

the evening. When they got back home, they found all their animals dead, including chickens, sheep,dogs and even the powerful ox. Later Huan Jing told his teacher, Fei Changfang, about this. Fei said the poultry and livestock died in place of Huan Jing's family, who escaped disaster by following his instructions.And so it happened that climbing a mountain, carring a spray of dogwood and drinking chrysanthemum wine became the traditional activities of the Chongyang Festival.

The dogwood is a plant with a strong fragrance, and is often used as a Chinese herbal medicine. People in ancient times believed it could drive away evil spirits and prevent one from getting a chill in lalte autumn. So its history as a medicine goes back many centuries. But the custom of carrying a spray of dogwood during the Double Ninth Festival is slowly dying out and many people, especially young people in the cities, do not even know what a dogwood spray looks like.

Even thouht the tradition of carrying a few sptigs of dogwood dies out, that of climbing mountains is reaching new heights.

Early in the Western Han Dynasty, about 2,000 years ago, people used to climb a high platform outside the capital city of Chang'an on the occasion of the Chongyang Festival. For many, it was the last outing of the year before the onset of winter. The custom evolved into its present form, when people go climbing to get some exercise as well as enjoy the autumn scenery.

But what about those people who live in flat regions far from any mountain?The problem is solved by going for a picnic and eating cakes. The Chinese word for cake is Gao, a homonym of the Chinese word for high. Mountains are high, so eating cake can, by a stretch of the imagination, take the place of going for a climb.

Since nine is the highest odd digit, people take two of them together to signify longevity. Therefore, the ninth day of the ninth month has become a special day for people to pay their respects to the elderly and a day for the elderly to enjoy themselves. It has also been declared China's day for the elderly.

Information from Chinapage, Regenttour. All rights reserved.

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Post time 2004-10-23 13:34:29 |Display all floors


the 21th day of December

冬至 is also very important in China

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1.New Year's Day


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