Spring Festival travel rush 2013

The Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. For Chinese people, it is a time for family reunion, just like the Christmas in the West. Tens of millions of people travel to their family homes, after living away from hometown for a full year. In 2013, the festival falls on Feburary 10, which means the holiday travel period will probably span from Jan. 26 to March 6. The 40-day period is called “Chunyun” (春运), literally “transportation during Spring Festival”, known as the world’s largest annual migration.

Spring Festival travel rush 2013

Spring Festival travel rush in China

A record 3.41 billion trips are expected to be made during the 40-day travel rush. It’s as if half of the entire population of the world have decided to hit the road. Obviously, the travel rush is set to strain the capacity of China’s transport system, especially the railway. This year, China’s railways are expecting 225 million passenger trips, ten million more than last year.

During this year’s travel season, high speed rail has proven to be a very popular option. The Beijing-Guangzhou high-speed railway, the world’s longest, opened on Dec. 26, cutting the travel time to about 8 hours from the current 20-odd hours by traditional lines. The new line gives passengers more choices for transportation, and relieves the pressure on the Spring Festival travel rush.

China's high-speed railway network

China’s high-speed railway network

The Beijing-Guangzhou high-speed railway is one of four north-south lines expected to serve as a backbone for the country’s high-speed railway network, which also features four east-west lines. The four north-east railways will connect Beijing with metropolises like Shanghai and Guangzhou as well as the northeastern cities of Shenyang, Harbin and Dalian. They will also link southeastern coastal cities such as Hangzhou, Fuzhou and Shenzhen. The east-west lines will bridge the Beijing-Guangzhou and Beijing-Shanghai high-speed routes and extend the network to western cities like Xi’an, Lanzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing and Kunming.

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Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival (aka Duanwu Festival) is a traditional Chinese festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. In 2012, the festival falls on June 23. The celebration activities of Dragon Boat festival includes racing dragon boats, eating Zongzi, and drinking realgar wine, etc.

Dragon Boat Festival

The important Chinese folk festival is dedicated to the ancient patriotic poet Qu Yuan, who lived more than 2,300 years ago.

Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon boat racing is an indispensable part of the festival, held all over the country. As the gun is fired, the racers in dragon-shaped canoes pull the oars harmoniously and hurriedly with rapid drums, and speed toward their destination.

Dragon Boat Festival

Zongzi – Chinese rice dumpling

Zongzi are to the Dragon Boat Festival what eggs are to Easter or roses to Valentine’s Day.

Dragon Boat Festival

Zongzi – Chinese Rice Dumpling

It is made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves or other plant leaves.

Dragon Boat Festival

Zongzi – Chinese Rice Dumpling

Now, with diversified fillings, it is available all year round at street stalls, supermarkets and restaurants.

At that day, adults would drink realgar wine, and paint children’s foreheads and limbs with the leftover realgar slurries. Also, Chinese people hang up calamus & wormwood. Both are for protection from evil and disease for the rest of the year.

Dragon Boat Festival

People paint children’s foreheads with realgar wine.

Dragon Boat Festival

Hang up calamus & wormwood at the door.

For more infos about Dragon Boat Festival, please follow this link:

https://www.easytourchina.com/fact-v356-the-dragon-boat-festival

More Details about Zongzi, please view:

https://www.easytourchina.com/blog-v1008-about-zongzi-chinese-rice-dumpling

 

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”)

清明时节雨纷纷,
A drizzling rain falls like tears on the Mourning Day;
路上行人欲断魂。
the mourner’s heart is breaking on his way.
借问酒家何处有?
Where can a wine house are found to drown his sadness?
牧童遥指杏花村。
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:

https://www.easytourchina.com/fact-v355-the-tomb-sweeping-festival

Chinese Winter Solstice Festival Falls on December 22, 2011

Dongzhi, literally “the Extreme of Winter”, is the 22nd one of 24 solar terms each year, and marks the winter solstice. It always comes around December 22 in Gregorian calendar. The day is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese and other East Asians.

Chinese Winter Solstice Festival

Chinese Winter Solstice Festival

In China, Dongzhi was originally celebrated as an end-of-harvest festival. Today, it is observed with a family reunion over the long night, also named “Chinese Thanksgiving”. Family members get together to drink mellow wine, eat delicate food, visit friends and relatives, exchange presents and host memorial ceremony for ancestors and Gods.

In the northern China, eating dumplings and wontons on Dongzhi means gaining positive energy and getting rid of negative power. Red bean porridge is welcomed in Shaanxi since it is considered effective to avoid ghosts and epidemic disease.

Chinese Winter Solstice Festival

People in Northern China eat dumplings.

Chinese Winter Solstice Festival

Wontons, food in Chinese Winter Solstice Festival

In the Southern China, especially in Zhejiang and Jiangsu Province, tangyuan is no exception on this specific day. Each family member receives at least one large tangyuan in addition to several small ones. The flour balls may be plain or stuffed. Tangyuan with stuff is used to honor the ancestors at night ceremony while tangyuan without stuff used to worship Gods in the morning ceremony. Also, there is a tradition eating long noodles in the hope of long life.

Chinese Winter Solstice Festival

Tangyuan, or balls of glutinuous rice, symbolizes reunion

About the origin of Winter Solstice Festival, please follow:
https://www.easytourchina.com/fact-v361-the-winter-solstice-festival

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.

(Source: China.org)

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.