Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival falls on September 12, 2011

The 15th day of the eighth lunar month is called “Mid-Autumn”, and the night “Night of the Moon”. Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as Moon Festival, takes places on that day when the moon is supposedly at its fullest and roundest. For Chinese people, the full moon is a symbol for family reunion. At the Mid-Autumn Festival, all the family members would gather together to taste moon cakes and appreciate the round moon. The date in the Western calendar changes annually. In 2011, the Mid-Autumn festival falls on Monday, September 12.

Mid-Autumn Festival, Chinese traditional festival

Moon Goddess & moon cakes at Mid-autumn Festival

Origin
Mid-Autumn Festival originated from the Moon sacrifices in ancient times. In ancient China, emperors followed the rite of offering sacrifices to the sun in spring and to the moon in autumn. Later aristocrats and literary figures helped expand the ceremony to common people. Historical books of the Zhou Dynasty (1066 B.C. – 221 B.C.) have had the word “Mid-Autumn”. At that time, people hold ceremonies to greet winter and worship the moon. The custom was passed down to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) when people enjoy and worship the full moon. In the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the 15th day of the eighth lunar month was formally named the Mid-Autumn Festival. People sent round moon cakes to their relatives as gifts in expression of their best wishes of family reunion. And since the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing dynasties (1644-1911), the custom of Mid-Autumn Festival celebration has become unprecedentedly popular.

How to Celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival
Mid-Autumn Festival is an evening celebration for family reunion. Most activities follow the custom of worshipping the moon in ancient times. At the night of Mid-Autumn Festival, people invite friends and relatives to hold family reunion feast for celebration. After the feast, they would sacrifice moon cakes, fruits and wine to the full moon at the open space. Every one prays for the blessing of Moon Goddess. Then, they would admire the full moon, taste moon cakes, drinking, chatting even dancing under the moon. Actually, contents of celebration varied in different areas of China: putting pomelo rinds on one’s head, lighting lanterns on towers, floating sky lanterns, burning incenses to the moon, planting Mid-Autumn trees, perform the Fire Dragon Dances…

Moon Cakes

Mid-Autumn Festival, Chinese traditional Festival

various moon cakes eaten at Moon Festival

Moon cake is an indispensable delicacy on Mid-Autumn Festival. For Chinese people, those palm-sized round cakes symbolize family unity and perfection. They eat moon cakes to express their homesickness and love for their family member. A traditional moon cake is made of a sweet bean-paste filling with golden brown flaky skin. And a golden yolk from a salted duck egg, which looks like a bright moon, was placed at the center of each cake. Over time, both crusts and the fillings of moon cakes have diversified, for changing taste preferences. Moreover, to adapt to today’s health-conscious lifestyle, fat-free and even high-fibre low sugar moon cakes also appeared. Customers can freely choose and pick the size and filling of moon cakes that suits their taste and diet.

A China tour to enjoy Mid-Autumn Festival by tasting moon cakes, listening to famous fairy tales – Chang’e Flying to the Moon, taking part in sacrifice rite, a reunion part … which offer you a impressive experience of Chinese festival culture.

Six Tourist Spots in Sichuan Listed as 100 Most-visited Places in China

Six scenic spots and historical sites in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province, including Mount Emei and Leshan Gaint Buddha, were listed as the 100 Most-visited Tourist Attractions in China, according to a recently-released rankings sponsored by 18 leading newspapers in China.

Mount Emei, Chengdu Sichuan province

Monkeys at Mount Emei, Chengdu Sichuan province

The list was based on calculation of the tickets sold for each tourist attraction.

The Forbidden City in Beijing, with an annual number of visitors of 12.3 million, topped the list.

Mount Emei, with annual visitors numbering approximately 2.65 million, ranked 39th on the list. The mountain, as the most-visited tourist site in Sichuan Province, gets its fame for the ancient Buddhist temples, monkey reserves, and the natural wonders: sunrise, sea of clouds, Buddhist lights and sacred lamp…

The 71m-high Gaint Buddha of Leshan ranked 46th on the list, for an annual number of visitors of 2.35 million. The stone sculpture, carved out of a cliff in the 8th century, depicts a seated Maitreya Buddha with his hands resting on his knees.

Leshan Giant Buddha, Sichuan province

Leshan Giant Buddha nearby Chengdu, Sichuan province

The other four listed tourist attractions in Sichuan Province were the Dujiangyan Dam, the Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park, Qingcheng Mountain and the Bamboo Sea in southern Sichuan.

For more information about Chengdu Sichuan travel, please follow this link
http://www.easytourchina.com/city-c18-chengdu

(Source from China.org.cn)

Yangshuo Bamboo Rafting along Li River & Yulong River

Yangshuo boasting many interesting outdoor activities, besides the popular Li River Cruise & Biking; bamboo raft ride is another great and relaxing way to take in the amazing views of Li River & Yulong River. You will be surprised by the beautiful landscapes which the green hills and the clear water along the journey!

Li River Cruise, yangshuo Guilin

Cruise ship, from Guilin to Yangshuo, along Li River

That’s exceptional experiences to observe the native farmers as they go about their daily routines: farmers tilling land, duck herders watching over their flocks, women washing laundry, fish man and cormorant, swimming buffalos and so on…

Yangshuo bamboo rafting, Guilin China

Fisherman fishes on Li River

Yangshuo bamboo rafting, Guilin China

Farmer transplants rice seedlings on rice paddy.

Bamboo Rafting along Li River: Yangdi – Xingping
This section is also a popular hiking route along the Li River, which offers the most beautiful scenery; just take your time and emerge in this amazing area of your leisure. The bamboo rafting will takes around 3-4 hours depends on what kind of pace you set. Rafts on Li River are of motorized types.

Yangshuo bamboo rafting, Guilin
Motorized raft along Li River in Yangshuo area

It is recommended that you take the bamboo rafting after 11 am, since at the morning time, the cruise ships run between this area with big noise and destroy the tranquility sense.

Bamboo Rafting along Yulong River
The water rides along Yulong River are very slow and relaxing as rafts are of men steering; so it is more suitable for a lazy afternoon to get all around view of the nature and rural peaceful life down the river.

Some biking routes will lead you to the tranquil Yulong River; just take a large draft which offers enough room for your bikes and rides between green karst hills and clear and slow water. It is recommended you avoid the morning time when most tourists will do bamboo rafting this period.

Yangshuo Bamboo Rafting, Guilin China

Boating on Yulong River for the green hills and clear waters

Three Routes Recommended for Rafting on Yulong River:
1) Xanadu (Shiwaitaoyuan) – Fenghuang Qiao (Fenghuang Bridge) – Fuli Qiao (Fuli Bridge) – Yulong Qiao (Yulong Bridge). This line includes the essential scenery of the river, is suitable for photographers and those who are crazy about “returning to nature”.

2) Jinlong Qiao (Jinlong Bridge) – Yulong Qiao (Yulong Bridge)- Guiyi Old Town (Jiuxian) – Xiangui Qiao (Xiangui Bridge)- Chaoyang Pier- Gongnong Qiao (Gongnong Bridge). It takes 5-6hrs to finish the entire journey (16km) in the low water period while the high water period needs 3-4hrs. Along this line, the drifters can make shore excursion to explore the beautiful historic towns, ancient villages and the charming countryside.

3) Jinlong Qiao (Jinlong Bridge) – Yulong Qiao (Yulong Bridge) – Guiyi Old Town (Jiuxian) – Xiangui Qiao (Xiangui Bridge)-Xiatang Zhai (Tourist Bus Station).

Beer Carnival: Qingdao International Beer Festival 2011

Qingdao International Beer Festival 2011 is held from August 13-28, at Qingdao International Beer City in Qingdao. The event, as the largest beer festival in Asia, is a carnival of beer for 16 days.

Tsingtao beer, Qingdao China

Qingdao International Beer Festival, Qingdao China

The slogan of the festival is “Cheers with the World, Qingdao”. It began with a grand opening ceremony on August 12, and would be followed by beer tasting, evening entertainment, drinking competitions as well as a themed final ceremony. The beer festival integrates tourism, culture, sports, business and trading activities.

Covering an area of 30,000 square meters, there are 17 pavilions for beer drinking at Qingdao International Beer City. Over 200 kinds of beer products from 13 countries and regions would be presented for beer lovers – Bittberger from Germany, Heineken from Holland, Pabst Blue Ribbon from the States and of course China’s Tsingtao, to name but a few. Also, they could eat well to soak up all the beer, which goes very well with meat on a stick, aka chuanr, on sale along with other Chinese food all around the fest.

Qingdao, China

Beautiful seascape of Qingdao city, China

Qingdao, home to Tsingtao Beer, hosts the annual beer festival during the second weekend of August since 1991. During that time, Qingdao is at its most popular time of year. Thousands of Shandong Province locals flock to the beach city for some sunshine, beer and Qingdao’s famous local dish of spicy clams. For tourists, don’t forget to visit various scenic spots around the city, such as Laoshan Mountain,Badaguan Scenic Area, Zhanqiao Pier, and have fun on the beaches.

Chinese Ghost Festival falls on August 14, 2011

The Ghost Festival, also known as Zhongyuan Jie in Taoism or the Ullabana in Buddhism, is a traditional Chinese festival celebrated on the 15th night of the seventh lunar month. In Chinese tradition, the 15th day of the seventh lunar month is called “Ghost Day”; and entire month is known as “Ghost Month”, when the Gates of Hell are opened up and the ghosts are free to walk the earth. The ghosts on the 15th night are in high gear. In 2011, the Ghost Festival falls on August 14.

Ghost Festival, Chinese Traditional Festival

people offer prayers to their deceased relatives, burn joss sticks, paper money and offer food.

For Chinese people, Ghost Festival is for assoiling and sacrificing the ghost of the Hell. At that day, the dead would return to visit their living relatives. Tradition states that Family members offer prayers to their deceased relatives, burn joss sticks, paper money and offer food. People now also burn paper houses, cars, servants and televisions to their dead relatives. It said that the offerings would reach the ghosts and help them to live comfortably in the afterlife. Almost as important as honoring the ancestors, offerings to ghosts without families must be made, so that they will not cause you any harm.

Another activity of the festival is to release and flow water lanterns on lakes or rivers. These lanterns are made by setting a lotus flower-shaped lantern on a piece of board. People use these floating water lanterns to direct the lost ghosts back to hell.

Ghost Festival, Chinese Traditional Festival

water lanterns floating on the river.

In China, there is a ghost city – Fengdu modeled after the Chinese Hell, built over 1,800 years ago. In Chinese culture, Fengdu is believed to be the resting place of the spirit of the dead. All people’s ghosts, regardless of age and sex, will come to Fengdu after death. Today, Fengdu is a very popular shore excursion site for tourists on the Yangtze River. It offers a good chance to explore Chinese ghost culture.

For more information about China travel, please view http://www.easytourchina.com/

Beijing Voted Most Cultured China City

A worldwide online poll has named Beijing, the capital city of China, as the country’s most cultured city.

Forbidden City, Beijing

Magnificent Forbidden City

The “2011 Chinese City Rankings” survey, which was launched on June 1, gathered opinions from netizens in more than 26 countries and attracted more than 5.7 million participants. Beijing topped the list among the 20 contending China cities, winning by more than 150,000 votes. Chengdu, Xi’an, Nanjing and Lhasa were ranked second to fifth.

Cultural experts initially selected the 20 cities based on factors such as cultural diversity, cultural heritage preservation, cultural industry development and openness to cultural exchange. Then, participants were asked to vote both online and through text messages, and strict measures were taken to avoid manipulation of the result.

The poll attracted a large percentage of foreign voters, with 65.8 percent coming from overseas. On the poll’s website, many voters described their attachments to the cities they voted for.

” It is golden opportunity to select the Chinese city according to my choice.” said a netizen named Chetnath. “I like the Xi’an. It is very old city and previous Chinese Capital too. I like the Terracotta most. Xi’an is the natural museum of the world. So, l vote for this precious and ornament of the world.”

The Chinese City Rankings is the second poll of its kind. The poll in 2010 gathered opinions from more than 5.6 million voters on the top 10 Chinese cities for tourism.

(Source from China daily)

Chinese Valentine’s Day Falls on August 6, 2011

Double Seventh Festival, on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month on the Chinese calendar, is a traditional festival full of romance. In 2011, it will be celebrated on August 6.

Qixi Festival, traditional Chinese Festival

Niulang and Zhinü meet at the Magpie Bridge at the Qixi Festival

It is also known as Magpie Festival, when the Niulang (Cowherd) and Zhinü (Weaver Maid) in heaven would meet at the Magpie Bridge. On Mid-summer Night, the sky is dotted with stars, and people can see the Milky Way spanning from the north to the south. On each bank of it is a bright star, which sees each other from afar. They are the Niulangand and Zhinü, and about them there is a beautiful love story passed down from generation to generation.

Long, long ago, there was an honest and kind-hearted fellow named Niulang, who lived by himself herding cattle and farming. One day, he came across a beautiful girl – Zhinü, the seventh daughter of the Goddess, who came down secretly to earth. Zhinü soon fell in love with Niulang, and married him. They lived a happy life and gave birth to a boy and a girl. Niulang worked in the fields, and Zhinü wove at home to help support the family. Incidentally, it was believed that a day in heaven amounted to a year on earth. Unfortunately, the Goddess of Heaven found out that Zhinü had married a mere mortal. She was furious and ordered Zhinü to return to heaven. On Earth, Niulang was very upset that his wife had disappeared. Suddenly, his ox began to speak, saying that soon it was to die, and if cowherd killed it and put on its hide, he would be able to go up to Heaven to find his wife. Crying bitterly, he killed the ox, put on the skin, and carried his two beloved children off to Heaven to find Zhinü. Seeing the cowherd closing in, the Goddess took out her hairpin and drew a line across the sky in front of Niulang. Instantly, it became a raging river of stars, known to the Chinese as the Silvery River, and the West as the Milky Way. For the wide river in the sky, the Niulang and Zhinüwere separated on the two banks forever. Their loyalty to love touched magpies, so tens of thousands of magpies came to build a bridge for them to meet on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month every year.

Qixi Festival, traditional Chinese Festival

Young girl pleads for skills at Qixi Festival

Scholars have shown that the Double Seventh Festival originated from the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD220). On the festival, young girls would beg for intelligence and deft needlework from Zhinü. In the yard, Melons and seasonal foods would be placed under the moon as an offering.  So, the day was considered to be the Festival to Plead for Skills in the past. And now, Double Seventh Festival is also called Chinese Valentine’s Day for the love story between Niulang and Zhinü.

For more information about Chinese traditional festivals, please view http://www.easytourchina.com/fat-v352-chinese-traditional-festivals