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5 Most Important Chinese Traditional Festivals

Updated on September 24, 2012
Lantern Festival
Lantern Festival | Source

1. Spring Festival - the Most Important of All Chinese Festivals

Spring Festival, which is also known as Chinese New Year in many parts of the world, is perhaps the most important and grandiose among the many Chinese traditional festivals.

Falling on the 1st day of the 1st lunar month (which can be between late January and early February) of each year, the Spring Festival is celebrated extensively until the 15th day (on which comes another Chinese traditional festival called the Lantern Festival).

People celebrate this Chinese traditional festival in many ways.

Family members do some intensive house cleaning – sweeping and polishing the floor, scrubbing the walls, wiping dust off almost everything in their houses.

They then decorate their houses with creatively cut pieces of red paper onto which they write wishes for fortune, happiness, and good health.

By doing these practices, Chinese people believe that they would be able to drive away bad luck and invite good luck into their households.

People make it a point to visit relations and acquaintances on this Chinese traditional festival.

Children are given money inside red envelopes again for good luck and prosperity.

In the evening, families gather for a dinner of traditional cuisine, mostly round fruits that symbolize prosperity and sticky foods that symbolize unity.

During the Spring Festival, fireworks, dragon and lion dances, and other traditional performances are staged in the parks or on the streets.

Indeed the most important of all Chinese traditional festivals, Spring Festival brings together Chinese families together to start a brand new year.

2. Lantern Festival - the Culmination of the Most Important Chinese Festival

Lantern Festival is one of the major Chinese traditional festivals that culminates the two-week Spring Festival.

It falls on the first night of the year that has a full moon.

On this Chinese traditional festival, people mark the beginning of spring by eating sweet dumplings served in soup called Yuanxiao or Tangyuan, a symbol of staying together.

They also watch fireworks – believed to drive away evil spirits – and lighting lanterns – symbols of bright future.

Legend has it that the Chinese people first started to light lanterns after heeding the advice of the good-hearted daughter of the Jade Emperor in heaven.

Once, the Jade Emperor was upset with a town after learning that its town people had murdered his sacred bird. The Jade Emperor vowed vengeance.

Upon learning this, his daughter warned the town. She told one of its people to light up lanterns to trick the Jade Emperor into thinking that the town is in flames and that his bird has already been avenged.

Since then, the lighting of the lanterns has become part of the important Chinese traditional festivals of the people.

This important Chinese traditional festival is also an occasion for the Chinese to exhibit their modern creativity by making lanterns of various shapes, sizes, colors, and designs.

Some lanterns are also plastered with curious riddles to be solved by revelers of this Chinese traditional festival.

3. Moon Festival - a Romantic Chinese Traditional Festival

The Moon Festival is perhaps the most highly anticipated Chinese traditional festival next to the Spring Festival.

To allow their people to celebrate this important Chinese traditional festival, some countries of the world designate the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese calendar - which is between September and early October of the Gregorian calendar - a holiday.

On the night of this Chinese traditional festival, the moon is said to be at its most beautiful, fullest and roundest than any other day of the year.

Thus, people feast on mooncakes of many varieties and round pomelos under the bright full moon.

There have been many legends about the Moon Festival.

However, many consider it as a Chinese traditional festival that people started celebrating in ancient times to observe the end of the fall harvest in agricultural China.

On this important Chinese traditional festival, people celebrate by:

  • hanging lanterns, which are decorated with pictures of Chinese moon goddess Chang’e floating to the moon, at high points like trees or roofs
  • floating sky lanterns
  • revering deities like Chang’e by burning incense
  • performing dragon dances
  • staying outdoors to eat beef, pork, round fruits, nuts, mooncakes and pomelos with friends and family

4. Dragon Boat Festival - an Exciting Chinese Traditional Festival

A significant Chinese traditional festival, the Dragon Boat festival is a day for many Chinese people to rediscover peace in their lives and drive off pestilence.

Among the many Chinese traditional festivals, the Dragon Boat festival is said to have the longest running history, as it continues to be celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar for centuries.

The highlights of this day are the dragon boat races, where competing groups of rowers paddle their boats swiftly to the pulse of pounding drums.

On this Chinese traditional festival, people hang oriental plants calamus and moxa at their doors and paste pictures of Chung Kuei, the demon queller, to drive off deadly diseases.

Adults drink hsiung huang wine and wear fragrant sachets, both practices are said to ward off evil and invite peace.

The most popular dish on this traditional Chinese festival is the tzung tzu , which is sweet rice wrapped in bamboo leaves and filled with varied fillings like pork, nut, or egg.

It is said that ancient Chinese people threw tzung tzu into the Miluo River to entice fishes to get out of the body of their hero Chu Yuan, who killed himself by drowning.

The Dragon Boat is a Chinese traditional festival that is said to commemorate the poet-statesman Chu Yuan. The boat races are Chinese traditional customs that symbolize the attempted rescue of Chu Yuan.

5. Tomb Sweeping Day - a Chinese Traditional Festival for Remembering Departed Loved Ones

On the 12th day of the 3rd lunar month, Chinese people observe a Chinese traditional festival called Qingming, called Tomb Sweeping Day or All Souls Day in the west.

This Chinese traditional festival is not to be confused with the All Souls Day that Catholics celebrate.

Falling on either April 4 or April 5 when snow has melted and plants have began to sprout, the Tomb Sweeping Day is a time to pay respects to deceased ancestors.

People tend to the graves of their loved ones who passed away and offer them foods.

They also burn Bank of Hell banknotes to offer money to their ancestors who might need the money in after-life.

On this Chinese traditional festival, Chinese people also fly colorful kites into the sky.

Many families would also go on spring outing after holding memorial ceremonies for the dead.

Among the many Chinese traditional festivals, the Tomb Sweeping Day is an occasion on which people remember the dead and have a good time with the living.

Copyright © 2011 Kerlyn Bautista

All Rights Reserved

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    • profile image

      7 years ago

      i am learning about china

    • profile image

      7 years ago


    • AnnaCia profile image


      7 years ago

      So nice article. Traditions are so important and I bet you will keep passing it from generation to generation. Never being in China but I have wonderful friends from there. Thank you for sharing your traditions.

    • kerlynb profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      @WillSteinmetz Hi there! Thanks for dropping by my hub. Really appreciate your comment :)

    • kerlynb profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      @Hui Hi! I have always been fascinated with China. It has such a long history and has influenced Asians in countless ways. Very interesting country!

      So, some Chinese traditions have changed? That's sad. Kids just want money... :(

    • kerlynb profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      @Aris Budianto Hello Asian neighbor :)The red envelopes? LOL! So true! Kids just can't wait to have them.

    • WillSteinmetz profile image


      8 years ago

      Great hub. It's very informative and well-written hub! Thanks for sharing.

    • Hui (蕙) profile image

      Hui (蕙) 

      8 years ago

      Obviously, you enjoy and know much about Chinese tradition, which is our pleasure. China has brilliant traditional culture, but unfortunately, some of them are disappearing. For example, that money in red envelop for children, which we call "Ya Sui Qian" originally to bless children safe and healthy, is used as a utilitarian gift in present days, and children compete with each other on who gets more. What a shame!

    • Aris Budianto profile image

      Aris Budianto 

      8 years ago from Lying along the equator Country

      Chinese New Year is always eagerly awaited, especially the red envelopes. Great hub, kerlynb.

    • kerlynb profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      @How-To Thanks for dropping by. The nice thing is that we don't really have to be in China to experience its culture. There are so many people around the world with Chinese blood and they practice Chinese customs wherever they are in the world.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Never being to China, but have too many friends on Google+. It seems China have very great culture. Thanks for sharing the informative stuff, and vote up from my side.


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