The traditional Chinese holidays are an essential part of Chinese culture. Many holidays are associated with Chinese mythology and folklore tales, but more realistically, they probably originated from ancient farmer rituals for celebrating harvests or prayer offerings. The most important Chinese holiday is the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival), which is also celebrated in Korea, Vietnam, and other Asian countries. All traditional holidays are scheduled according to the Chinese calendar (except the Tomb Sweeping Festival, National Day and Winter Solstice Festival, falling on the respective dates in the Gregorian calendar).

Traditional holidays are generally celebrated in Chinese speaking regions. For the most part, however, only Chinese New Year, Qingming Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival are statutory public holidays.

Festival Chinese Calendar Gregorian Calendar
Chinese New Year
1 January
25/01/2020
Lantern Festival
15 January
08/02/2020
Tomb Sweeping Festival
12 March (year 2020)
05/04/2020
Dragon Boat Festival
5 May
25/06/2020
Magpie Festival
7 July
25/08/2020
Ghost Festival
15 July
02/09/2020
Mid-Autumn Festival
15 August
01/10/2020
National Day
15 August (year 2020)
01/10/2020
Double Ninth Festival
9 September
25/10/2020
Winter Solstice Festival
7 November (year 2020)
21/12/2020
New Years Eve
30 December
11/02/2021

 

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festivity in the Chinese calendar. The origin of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Chinese New Year is celebrated in China and in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, including Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Mauritius, Philippines, and also in Chinatowns elsewhere. Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the lunar new year celebrations of its geographic neighbors.

Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese new year vary widely. People will pour out their money to buy presents, decoration, material, food, and clothing. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red colour paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of "good fortune" or "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity." On the Eve of Chinese New Year, supper is a feast with families. Food will include such items as pigs, ducks, chicken and sweet delicacies. The family will end the night with firecrackers. Early the next morning, children will greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, and receive money in red paper envelopes. The Chinese New Year tradition is to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone.

 

Traditionally, each of the Chinese New Year has an animal with the twelve Earthly Branches corresponding, as a symbol of the year, known as the Animal Zodiac.

Rat (25/01/2020)

Ox (12/02/2021)
Tiger (01/02/2022)
Rabbit (22/01/2023)
Dragon (10/02/2024)
Snake (29/01/2025)
Horse (17/02/2026)
Goat (06/02/2027)
Monkey (26/01/2028)
Rooster (28/01/2017)
Dog (16/02/2018)
Pig (05/02/2019)

 

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a popular harvest festival celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese people. The festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, during a full moon, which is in September or early October in the Gregorian calendar, close to the autumnal equinox. The Government of the People's Republic of China listed the festival as an "intangible cultural heritage" in 2006, and it was made a Chinese public holiday in 2008.

The most popular legend that explains the origin of the Mid-Autumn Festival is as follow:

In the ancient past, there was a hero named Hou Yi who was excellent at shooting. His wife was Chang'e. One year, the ten suns rose in the sky together, causing great disaster to people. Yi shot down nine of the suns and left only one to provide light. An immortal admired Yi and sent him the elixir of immortality. Yi did not want to leave Chang'e and be immortal without her, so he let Chang'e keep the elixir. But Feng Meng, one of his apprentices, knew this secret. So, on the fifteenth of August in the lunar calendar, when Yi went hunting, Feng Meng broke into Yi's house and forced Chang'e to give the elixir to him. Chang'e refused to do so. Instead, she swallowed it and flew into the sky. Since she loved her husband very much and hoped to live nearby, she chose the moon for her residence. When Yi came back and learned what had happened, he felt so sad that he displayed the fruits and cakes Chang'e liked in the yard and gave sacrifices to his wife. People soon learned about these activities, and since they also were sympathetic to Chang'e they participated in these sacrifices with Yi.

Making and sharing mooncakes is one of the hallmark traditions of this festival. In Chinese culture, a round shape symbolizes completeness and unity. Thus, the sharing of round mooncakes among family members signify the completeness and unity of families. In some areas of China, there is a tradition of making mooncakes during the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival. The senior person in that household would cut the mooncakes into pieces and distribute them to each family member, signifying family reunion. In contemporary times, however, making mooncakes at home has given way to the more popular custom of giving mooncakes to family members, although the meaning of maintaining familial unity remains.

 

The Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional and statutory holiday originating in China and associated with a number of East Asian and Southeast Asian societies. The festival occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunisolar Chinese calendar. The date varies from year to year on the Gregorian calendar. The focus of the celebrations includes eating rice dumplings called "zongzi", drinking realgar wine Xiong Huang Jiu, and racing dragon boats.

The best-known traditional story holds that the festival commemorates the death of poet Qu Yuan of the ancient state of Chu during the Warring States Period of the Zhou Dynasty. A descendant of the Chu royal house, Qu served in high offices. However, when the king decided to ally with the increasingly powerful state of Qin, Qu was banished for opposing the alliance; he was accused of treason. During his exile, Qu Yuan wrote a great deal of poetry, for which he is now remembered. Twenty-eight years later, Qin captured Ying, the capital of Chu. In despair, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.

It is said that the local people, who admired him, dropped zongzi (sticky rice triangles wrapped in bamboo leaves) into the river to feed the fish. The rice was wrapped so that fish would not eat Qu Yuan's body and eat the rice instead, this is said to be the origin of zongzi. The local people were also said to have paddled out on boats, either to scare the fish away or to retrieve his body, this is said to be the origin of dragon boat racing.