Fun Cultural Classes for Family to Take While Touring China

Successful travel en family is never lack of fun activities and games for kids, who actually don’t care that much about those places of interest or famous scenic spot. Why not take some interesting cultural classes – a selection of family-friendly projects when touring China? Which are perfect for introducing both kids & parents to the Chinese history and culture in the forms of practicing Tai Chi, making dumpling…

Recommended China Family Tours 

Cooking Class

Dumpling  Chinese Food

Culinary trip is one of the best way to know a culture. Therefore you won’t skip the excellent Chinese food, nor the culinary class to learn how to make it. You’ll find great pleasure when making extraordinary varied local dishes in different Chinese cities with your children, and sampling the Chinese food cooked on your own. As the most traditional food in China, Dumpling (jiao zi) is always the first dish for foreigners to try.

Recommended China Culinary Tours

Kong Fu Classes

Shaolin Kongfu  Tai Chi

An authentic Kong Fu (wu shu) class in China provides you the chance to discover China’s national treasure in history. Kong Fu training for kids is usually moderate, funny and aiming at developing their physical skills and emotional skills. Shaolin Kong Fu (wu shu) originating from Shaolin Temple – the cradle of Chinese martial arts is the most popular among learners, followed by Tai Chi. Both adults and kids can take Kong Fu class.

Recommended China Kung Fu Tours

Chinese Calligraphy Class

Chinese Calligraphy Class

Take the Chinese calligraphy class to savor the elegant art of writing. Calligraphy embodies the unique beauty of Chinese script, and can reflect the writer’s character, mindset and mood. It won’t be easy to master calligraphy. First of all you need learn how to hand the brush – the traditional writing tool in China, then the word structure and writing style.

Peking Opera Mask Painting

Peking Opera Mask Painting

Parents and kids seeking programs to dig into Chinese culture and art are recommended to have a Peking Opera mask painting class. Peking Opera is a time-honored comprehensive stage art style, a blend of literature, music, painting, martial arts, acrobatics and performance art. Peking Opera performance can’t go without mask. And the class is for you to learn how to paint this put-on facial make-up for opera actors and actresses.

Moreover, Shadow puppetry, another traditional Chinese handicraft and performing art also attract many kids and adults to learn and play.

Mahjong Lesson


It’s mainly for the adults with entertainment. There’s no other pastime more popular than playing Mahjong in China. Legend has that Confucius developed the game of Mahjong in 500 BC. Nowadays, Mahjong playing varies in different places, and Chengdu in Sichuan province is most famous for this game. After learning playing Mahjong, you can also enjoy this pastime at home with your friends.

Qingming Festival Falls on April 4, 2012

Qingming, literally pure and brightness, is the fifth one of 24 solar terms in Chinese lunar calendar. The day represents a welcome transition from winter to spring. With the coming of spring, nature wakes up, dressing the world in green. All is new, clean and fresh. It always comes at April 4 or April 5 each year.

Qingming Festival

Qingming Festival

Moreover, it is a festival of remembrance. Chinese people sweep the tombs of their ancestors in a yearly mark of respect. This is why Qingming is also known as the Tomb-Sweeping Day. After slightly sweeping the tombs, people offer food, flowers and favorites of the dead, then burn incense and paper money and bow before the memorial tablet.

Tomb-sweeping Festival

Tomb sweeping at Qingming Festival

Qingming was frequently mentioned in ancient Chinese works, the most famous one is the poem by Du Mu.

Qingming Festival

Du Mu’s poem (simply titled “Qingming”)

A drizzling rain falls like tears on the Mourning Day;
the mourner’s heart is breaking on his way.
Where can a wine house are found to drown his sadness?
A cowherd points to  Xing Hua (Almond Flower) Village in the distance.

The Qingming Festival sees a combination of sadness and happiness. In contrast to the sadness of the tomb sweepers, people also enjoy hope of Spring on this day. It is a good time for people to go outside and enjoy the greenery of springtime.

Qingming Festival

Spring outing around Qingming Festival

Qingming is also significant in Chinese Tea Culture since it is the specific day which divides the fresh green tea by their picking dates. A kind of green tea picked and dried before the Qingming Festival is called “Mingqian tea”. Mingqian tea is known for its tender buds and rich fragrant bouquet, and it’s valued for its quality.

Picking tea before Qingming Festival

Picking tea before Qingming Festival

For more infos about Qingming Festival, please follow this link:

Chinese Lantern Festival

The first month of the Chinese lunar calendar is called yuan month, and in ancient times people called night xiao. On the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, it is the first night to see a full moon after the New Year. Thus, the day is called “Yuanxiao Festival” or “Shangyuan Festival”. According to Chinese tradition, at the very beginning of a new year, when there is a bright full moon hanging in the sky, there should be thousands of colorful lanterns hung out for people to appreciate. Also, Chinese people celebrate it as Lantern Festival. The date in the Western calendar changes annually; and in 2012, it falls on February 6.

Chinese Lantern Festival

Various lanterns displayed to greet Lantern Festival

Of course, for Lantern Festival, the displaying of lanterns is a major event at night. In the moonlight, lanterns with various colors, shapes, and sizes are hung in the streets. People walk at a leisurely pace, and appreciate the creativity of diverse lanterns. Children carry self-made or bought paper lanterns, and have fun with their family. “Guessing lantern riddles” is an essential part for lantern watching. The puzzles or riddles were written on a piece of paper and posted on the lanterns. If one can solve that puzzles, a little gift would be given.

And, Tangyuan, a traditional food for Lantern Festival, is eaten together with family. Its name has a similar pronunciation as the word for “reunion” in Chinese. In Northern China, it is also called “Yue Xiao”, which derives from the festival. The food is made from glutinous rice flour with stuffing in round shape. The difference between Tangyuan and Yuanxiao is the way they are made. People in north China make yuanxiao by rolling a hard stuffing in glutinous rice flour. In south China, tangyuan is prepared by placing the filling inside rice flour wrapping, similar to the making of jiaozi. The round shape of the balls and the bowls where they are served, come to symbolise the family togetherness.

Chinese Lantern Festival

Tang Yuan – Lucky food eaten on Lantern Festival

Besides, some performances would be staged in the daytime of the festival, like setting off fireworks, dragon dance, lion dance, land boat dance, yangge dance, and walking on stilts, etc.

For more infos about Lantern Festival, please follow this link:

15-Day Celebration of Chinese Lunar New Year

Chinese New Year, also called ‘Spring Festival‘ in China, is the longest and most important one of Chinese traditional festivals. It begins on the first day of the first lunar month, and ends with Lantern Festival on the 15th day. For Chinese people, it is a time for family reunion, just like the Christmas in the West.

Spring Festival or Chinese New Year

Year of the Dragon 2012, Chinese Lunar New Year

Actually, preparation for Spring Festival starts a month or days earlier. Chinese people buy presents, decoration materials, food and clothing for the coming celebration. Also, they would give their home a thorough cleaning. It is believed the cleaning sweeps away bad luck and makes their homes ready for good luck to arrive. After that, the doors and windows are decorated with paper cuts and couplets with Chinese auspicious phrases.

Chinese New Year’s Eve, known as “Chu Xi” or “Eve of the Passing Year”, is a a day when Chinese families gather for their annual reunion dinner. A dish consisting of fish will appear on the tables of Chinese families. It symbolizes surplus or success. After dinner, many families in mainland China will banter whilst watching the CCTV New Year’s Gala in the hours before midnight. They would hold a countdown to the new year, then the 15-day celebration comes.

Spring Festival or Chinese New Year

Reunion Dinner on New Year’s Eve, Chinese Spring Festival

The First Day of Chinese New Year
The first thing of that day is to welcome the Gods of the heaven and earth, which officially begins at midnight. It tells the arrival of Chinese New Year. After getting up in the morning, people typically wear new clothes from head to toe to symbolize a new beginning in the new year. Most importantly, it is a time to honor one’s elders, usually their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Red envelop, a monetary gift for the new year, are typically given by the married to the unmarried, most of whom are children.

Spring Festival or Chinese New Year

Red envelope – a monetary gift for the new year

The Second Day
Traditionally, married woman will visit and pay respect to their birth parents with her husband on this day.

The Third Day
Though the first week of Chinese New Year is the most important and most celebrated with visits to friends and family. But it is generally accepted that the third day is not a good time to socialize or visit your relatives and friends.

The Fourth Day
This is an auspicious day to re-open the businesses after the main New Year holidays.

The Fifth Day
The day is regarded as the birthday of the God of Wealth. People stay home to welcome the God of Wealth into their homes. In some pleaces, people also re-open their businesses; and shoot off firecrackers in the attempt to get the attention of the God of Wealth, for a good fortune of the new year.

Spring Festival or Chinese New Year

God of Wealth, Chinese Culture

The Sixth Day
It marks the time to visit relatives and friends, plus temples for good fortunate & health.

The Seventh Day
The seventh day, traditionally known as Renri (the common man’s birthday), is the day when everyone grows one year older. Noodles are eaten to promote longevity.

The Eighth Day
Another family dinner is held to celebrate the eve of the birth of the Jade Emperor. However, everybody should be back to work by the eighth day.

The Ninth Day of the Chinese New Year
It is a day for Chinese to offer prayers to the Jade Emperor of Heaven to ensure a good year to come.

The Tenth through Twelfth Day
In these days, friends and family are invited for dinners.

The Thirteenth Day
On the 13th day people will eat pure vegetarian food to clean out their stomach due to consuming too much food over the last two weeks.

The Forteenth Day
Preparations will be made for the Lantern Festival.

The Fifteenth Day

Lantern Festival, Chinese New Year

Beautiful lighted lanterns at night, Lantern Festival

The tradition of Lantern Festival (also called “Yuanxiao Festival” or “Shang Yuan Festival”) on the fifth day has been part of Chinese New Year celebration for more than 2,200 years. Tangyuan or Rice dumplings, a sweet glutinous rice ball brewed in a soup, are eaten this day. At night, children go out to temples carrying paper lanterns and solve riddles on the lanterns. The day brings the 15-day celebration of Spring Festival to an end.

Peking Opera Festival Opens in Central China

The 6th Peking Opera Festival kicked off on Nov. 2 in central China’s Hubei province as part of the government’s efforts to revive the traditional artform. It would lasts until Nov. 18.

Peking Opera, tradi

Peking Opera, Traditional Chinese Culture

The festival will features 33 operas to be performed by 33 troupes from all over China, including renowned opera artists Mei baojiu, Yu Kuizhi and Shang Changrong.

The festival will cover a wide range of Peking opera styles, including new versions of ancient operas, modern performances and traditional operas.

“Peking opera is the quintessence of our country and a treasure that most represents traditional culture,” said Minister of Culture Cai Wu.

Peking opera, which combines instrumental music, vocal performances, miming, dancing and acrobatics, was recognized as a form of intangible cultural heritage last year by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Peking Opera

Fairy Tales: Tale of the White Snake

The government established a special fund in 2005 to support key troupes around the country in developing new scripts and adapting classic stories.

The festival, sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, has been held every three years since 1995.


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

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.

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.

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