Festivals, Beijing

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  • Fire Crackers in Beijing
    Fire Crackers in Beijing
    by Laserone
  • NewYear's in 北京 Beijing
    NewYear's in 北京 Beijing
    by Laserone
  • Several kinds of
    Several kinds of "lucky money" (red...
    by ntm2322
  • Dressing up and hitting the streets

    by mke1963 Written Dec 7, 2004

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    The Chinese love to replay their history, and one of the best times for this is always at the temple fairs that occur during the Chinese New Year celebrations.
    There is a strong sense of 'belonging' in China, and whether it is as part of an office, a school, a university or a local district, people will actively take part in cultural activities.
    Cultural traditions remain strong in China, despite (or perhaps because of) the Cultural Revolution. Until very recently there was little television, and entertainment was what people put together themselves.
    At the annual temple fair, everyone braves the cold (and this year...2004...it really was bitterly cold in Beijing) and joins in the fun.
    A temple fair in China is surely one of the great entertainment spectacles in China, largely put on by local people for local people. No expense is spared in designing and making the costumes, many of which recall epic tales of China's earlier dynasties.
    The new century has brought so many changes to people's lives in China, that nostalgia is becoming a key element in people's lifestyles for the first time. Until very recently, few would look backwards to any time in their past with any sense of longing, but now nostalgia is driving TV programming, popular entertainment, restaurant styles and museuem exhibitions.
    Catch China at its very, very best during the Temple Fairs.

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    Mid-Autume Day -- Sacrifice

    by wwliu Updated Oct 3, 2004

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    Long long ago, there were a couple living in happiness. Husband called Hou Yi and his wife called Chang E. Hou Yi was toxophily hero who annihilated 9 suns and keep back only sun in the sky what saved all people in the earth. One Day, he got a pack of elixir. Eating a half would keep a person long live never die. He was very glad and play share it with her wife. However, Chang E ate all the elixir slinkingly, then she felt her body lighter bit by bit. At last, she fly to the Moon. For punishing her, the Jade Emperor who master the heaven order that stay Chang E in the cold Moon palace forever. Only a rabbit accompany with Chang E who called Jade Hare-the moon. Until today, you still see a rabbit in the Moon. That is.

    In China traditional festival -- Mid-autume Day, people immolate to the Jade Hare - the moon. And the story come down generation by generation.

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    Mid-Autume Day -- Hare Milord

    by wwliu Updated Oct 4, 2004

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    Have you found the pattern in the circular Moon looks like a hare? Of course we know it's reasoning circle mountain on the exterior of the moon. In the past, however, Chinese people thought it was a hare in the moon palace who is a supernatural hare. So we call it hare milord in respect. Every Mid-autume Day, people worship with Hare milord and make it to clay figurine as the picture. The clay figurine of Hare milord looks much more like human except the harelip. In addition, it came to a kind of popular toy go round among chirdren rather then a Joss.

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    Nanxinhua Jie street festival

    by DSwede Written Feb 2, 2006

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    Food on a stick

    My visit was on New Year's Day (Lunar New Year that is). Other than the holiday times, this street is just a normal city scene with vendors and businesses. However, on these holiday times, the road is blocked off and becomes a wonderful street festival.

    There were folk dancers, stage performances, Chinese mimes, performers dancing on stilts (see photo on my Beijing page) and of course a plethora of vendors, hustlers and food tables... and did you know in China you can buy just about any food imaginable on a stick...

    It does not cost a dime, but is an easy way to see some of the locals in their own environment, enjoying the holiday times.

    Nanxinhua Jia is the street that runs south immediately from the Hepingmen metro station.

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  • ntm2322's Profile Photo

    Dong1 zhi4 Festival (Winter Solstice Festival)

    by ntm2322 Updated Jan 1, 2008

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    Dumplings (Not enough for me!) - see next pic
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    This festival is one of the most important Chinese festivals and is celebrated on or around December 22 (in 2007 it was on December 22). And this is exactly the time when sunshine is weakest and daylight shortest (it actually marks the first day of the Dong1 zhi4 solar term).

    The Dong1 zhi4 Festival is also a time for the family to get together, it is a time for family reunion.

    In northern China, like Beijing, people eat dumplings on Dong1 zhi4, in the south people eat tang1 yuan2 (balls of glutinous rice flour plain or stuffed with ground peanuts or black sesame seeds plunged into a sweet soup made of water, ginger and rock sugar) which symbolizes reunion.

    Regarding the Chinese dumplings (jiaozi) eaten in north of China, they resemble ears. At Dong1 zhi4 Festival parents usually like to tell their children that if they don’t eat dumplings on this day, their ears will be frozen and drop down.

    Well, as you must know, temperatures at this time are already below zero, eating hot dumplings warms you up, really.

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    Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

    by ntm2322 Updated Sep 29, 2007

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    Let's lit up the lights!
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    The Mid-Autumn Festival is a traditional festival celebrated in the Chinese World, no matter in which country, on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. In the Western calendar it usually occurs between the 2nd week of September and the 2nd week of October (in 2007 it was in September 25th but in 2008 it will be in September 14th).

    On this day the moon is full and its round shape represents reunion, therefore, this festival is also known as the Festival of Reunion.

    In this special day all family members try to get together. If not possible one should at least be outside at night and gaze at the moon, thinking of his family and friends, this way they could still be together.

    This is a really good time for children, they are all happy. Their parents carry the bags with the fruits, moon cakes, drinks, etc. and the children carry the beautiful shaped lit lanterns. After founding a nice place and have settled down, people play for a while, chat with each other, tell jokes, sing, etc., and then start munching away and enjoy the full moon.

    The Mid-Autumn Festival was originally a harvest festival and on this day people used to eat all kinds of fruits and round moon cakes.

    Special foods eaten in the Mid-Autumn Festival include:

    - Moon cakes

    - Cooked taro

    - Edible snails from the taro patches

    - Water caltrop (a type of water chestnut resembling black buffalo horns)

    - Rice paddies cooked with sweet basil and

    - Fruits (apples, oranges, pears, peaches, grapes, pomegranates, melons, pomelos, etc.)

    There are several versions about the Mid-Autumn Festival and the origins of the moon cakes; you may read them in the link I provide down here.

    Places in Beijing where you can sit and gaze at the moon include:

    Shichahai (the oldest water area within Beijing)

    Yangtaishan (the Balcony Mountain)

    Baiwangshan (situated 3 kilometers to the north of Summer Palace)

    Minghui Teahouse (in Dajue Temple with its more than 1000 years old ginko tree)

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  • ntm2322's Profile Photo

    Moon cakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival

    by ntm2322 Updated Sep 30, 2007

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    One of my favorite kinds of moon cakes
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    The Mid-Autumn Festival was originally a harvest festival and on this day people used to eat all kinds of fruits and round moon cakes. Nowadays the tradition is still well alive. People gather together with family members and friends (this year of 2007 it was in September 25th) at dinner time and then later go out and watch the moon, eat fruits and moon cakes.

    Special foods eaten in the Mid-Autumn Festival include:

    - Moon cakes

    - Cooked taro

    - Edible snails from the taro patches

    - Water caltrop (a type of water chestnut resembling black buffalo horns)

    - Rice paddies cooked with sweet basil and

    - Fruits (apples, oranges, pears, peaches, grapes, pomegranates, melons, pomelos, etc.)

    There are several versions about the Mid-Autumn Festival and the origins of the moon cakes; you may read them in the link I provide down here.

    The traditional moon cakes are made with sweet fillings of

    - Nuts (wu3 ren2)

    - Mashed red beans (dou4 sha1)

    - Lotus-seed paste (lian2 rong2) or

    - Chinese dates (zao3 ni2)

    - with or without a cooked egg yolk inserted in the middle.

    Nowadays, there are all varieties of moon cakes, some of them made with the most exotic fruits like durian or if you like tea you might buy green tea moon cakes. They now also target different kinds of people, like vegetarians, health-conscious folks (like me), diabetes, etc. and now they come for the “big sale” about one month before the festival starts.

    Besides buying moon cakes to eat in the Mid-Autumn Festival, people also buy them to offer as presents to friends, family members, clients, etc.

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    National Day

    by ntm2322 Written Oct 6, 2007

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    Raised for the first time in October 1st, 1949

    In Tian’anmen Square, October 1st of the year of 1949 at three o’clock in the afternoon, Chairman Mao Ze Dong declared the founding of the People's Republic of China and the red five-star flag was raised for the first time.

    Today, October 1st of 2007, mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau celebrate its 58th anniversary with several activities, including the flag’s raising, marathons, fireworks, etc. And throughout China public places are usually decorated in a tone related to the National Day where red is the predominant color.

    In this period the weather is also very nice, so many people who don’t go travel just take the day off to stay at home or go out for outdoor activities.

    The National Day holidays are basically one week off for millions of Chinese and during this period they travel domestically and internationally.

    It means that if you are planning to catch a few domestic flights in China during the National Day holidays (the week around October 1st) to visit some of the major tourist hot spots in China you should book your tickets and hotel reservations months before your trip.

    My best advice: this is one of the best times to visit Beijing because many mainland emigrants working here during this period go back to their countryside/hometowns to visit their families.

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    Spring Festival (Chun1 jie2) – the story

    by ntm2322 Updated Feb 7, 2008

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    Happy New Year - red stickers at the door
    2 more images

    According to the Chinese lunar calendar, the first day of the first month of the lunar year is the beginning of the Spring Festival.

    In 2008, the Spring Festival begins in February the 7th. It means that February 7th is the first day of the lunar year, the 8th is the second day of the lunar year and so on.

    The Spring Festival, commonly called "Chun1 jie2" or “guo4 nian2” (celebrating the New Year) is definitely the most important and “noisiest” (in the good sense) traditional Chinese festival.

    There is a story related to this word “nian” (year).

    It is said that in ancient times there was a terrible monster called “nian”. Its face was amazingly big, it would eat people as soon as it saw them, and it would harm livestock as soon as it encountered them. As a result God jailed “nian” and allowed him to come out only once a year, more precisely, on the 30th of the twelfth month of the lunar year (it means, in the last day of the lunar year).

    However, people discovered that the monster “nian” was afraid of three things

    - Red color

    - Big noise

    - Blaze

    Consequently, everybody sticked red papers on the entrances, continuously cracked firecrackers and left the lights lit the whole night. When that monster “nian” came, every household was well illuminated, every door was red and everywhere there was this noise of firecrackers, then “nian” got tremendously frightened and ran away. Since then “nian” never returned again.

    And the celebrations of the New Year (xin1 nian2) still have kept these customs just mentioned.

    See next tip for “Spring Festival – most important customs”.

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    Spring Festival – most important customs (Part 1)

    by ntm2322 Updated Feb 13, 2008

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    Right in the middle the word
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    The Chinese like to stick the character “fu2” meaning “happiness”. And if they stick it upside down people will say “fu2 dao4 le”, meaning “happiness arrived”. The character “dao4” means “upside down” and has the same sound as the word “arrive”. In Chinese the character “dao4” also means “arrive”. The character “le” doesn’t mean anything.

    In the Spring Festival the Chinese also like to eat jiao3 zi (dumplings) and nian2 gao1 (New Year cake). According to tradition people should eat the jiao3 zi from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. (ban4 ye4 zi3 shi2 chi1) because it is the time when starts the first day of the first month of the lunar year.

    The New Year cake (nian2 gao1). “Nian2” means “year” and “gao1” means cake. “Nian2 gao1” is also called “nian2 nian2 gao1”. In Chinese “gao1” also means “high” and “nian2 nian2” means every year. Therefore, “nian2 nian2 gao1”, using the word “high”, it means “one’s life will be better year after year”

    “Kai1 men2 bao4 zhu2” (open the door and light firecrackers), this is to say that the first thing to do in the New Year is to open the door and crack firecrackers, because this is the noise that welcomes the New Year.

    “Bai4 nian2” (pay a New Year call / wish somebody a Happy New Year). The original meaning was to pay respects and wish Happy New Year to the elders, and the elders in turn would distribute ya1 sui4 qian2 (money inserted in red pockets given as a lunar New Year gifts) to the children. Ya1 sui4 qian2 means lucky money.

    It is said that ya1 sui4 qian2 can hold down the evil, therefore, after receiving the ya1 sui4 qian2 the children could enjoy a very peaceful year.

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    Spring Festival – most important customs (Part 2)

    by ntm2322 Written Feb 13, 2008

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    The handing tea ceremony
    1 more image

    Handing out ya1 sui4 qian2

    Ya1 sui4 qian2 are also called “hong2 bao1” (red pockets) and its distribution is quite interesting.

    For instance, if you are married you will receive red pockets only from your father-in-law, mother-in-law, from your parents and eventually from an elder person that is a friend of them. If you have children you may also receive some “lucky money” from you married friends (actually, the ”hong2 bao1” they will give you is for your children, not for you).

    You (the married one) should however give “hong2 bao1” to your unmarried friends or to the children of your married friends.

    If it happens that you are the boss, a manager, the chef, etc., you may also hand out ”hong2 bao1” to your married and unmarried subordinates (in this case the “money” you receive is meant to be for you).

    Well, there are a lot of interesting things related to the Chinese New Year. If you would like to learn more, you may see my next tips.

    PHOTOS:

    In the first photo you can see the child paying respects to his grandmother by giving her a cup of tea. At the time he hands in the cup he also wishes his grandmother "happy new year", "good health", "good fortune", etc. His grandmother will reply by wishing him good as well and giving him at the same time a "pocket money" (lucky money).

    The second photo shows various kinds of "pocket money".

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    Spring Festival in Beijing: Temple Fairs

    by idy Updated Mar 12, 2007

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    The south gate of Di'tan Park
    4 more images

    The city empties out as the Spring Festival nears, with many of its residents going back to their hometowns to spend the Chinese New Year with their families. This could be the only time the Beijing roads are unclogged in the day and buses and the subway aren't packed like sardines. It is calm, serene and very likeable indeed.

    During the Spring Festival, there are fairs that are held in the parks that are most likely where you will find the crowds. These are called Temple Fairs, simply because within the parks are temples at which the traditional prayer sessions are held in olden days. Some of these are traditionals are "reenacted" during the Spring Festival (usually in the morning) with people dressed in traditional gowns and lots of incense.

    At these fairs, of course, you'll find the requisite food stalls selling the perennial mutton skewers to powdered flavoured soup concocted with water from a giant kettle and delicacies like smelly tofu. You'll also find the requisite game stalls with giant soft toys up for grabs as well as lots of souvenir stalls selling a wide range of items in the shape and/or likeness of the animal du jour (according to the Chinese zodiac).

    Other than that, you may treated to a cultural performance or two, depending on when you arrive. You could catch a Chinese orchestra in action, or a magician, or a karaoke contest. Other novelties include taking part in traditional games like spinning tops, jumping rope, or watching movies the traditional way - on a stool, streetside, peering into a large box through a tiny window.

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    Ballroom dancing in the Park

    by gaizee Written May 8, 2005

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    Ballroom dancing in the park

    It was a up lifting experience to go for a lovely evening walk around this man made lake and enjoy some of the local atmosphere. At one end of the lake we found rows of resturants and when you walk further on we saw so many of the locals ballroom dancing , there was so much activity going on it was exciting.
    Massage's, Food, Dancing, rides, and of course beggars.
    You see many beggars in China.

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    Newyear in Beijing (their newyear!)

    by Laserone Written Nov 9, 2011

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    NewYear's in 北京 Beijing
    1 more image

    During NewYear's, Beijing needs you to wear earplugs. First things said first, consider the public offices to be closed but not restaurants or all of the shops. In fact that is when many people make lots of business including malls. If you're only concerned with visiting the Great Wall, take a whole day off or 2thirds of one and go to MuTianYu, instead of going to the usual BaDaLing area. If you feel like adding an hour or two, go to the farthest site reachable in one day which is gorgeous and is called SiMaTai. Chinese mostly, will flock the city's attractions although the traffic will be considerably tough.

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    Spring Festival in Beijing: Fireworks

    by idy Updated Mar 12, 2007
    Perfect view!
    2 more images

    Fireworks were banned in the city until 2006. According to various sources, the Beijingers went a little mad with the fireworks when the ban was lifted, with solid fireworks displays every night for a week or two.

    However, in 2007, the craze seemed to have worn off a little, with only New Year's eve and the first couple of days of the Year of the Golden Pig sounding like a war zone. It's good fun to stroll the city and see what's being set off (mainly explosives followed by car alarms). Be careful, though, of misfires and defective explosives - apparently at least 40 people were hurt in fireworks-related accidents, with 1 fatality.

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