Chinese Lunar New Year and Holidays
The three most important holidays in the Chinese calendar are the Lunar New Year, the Dragon Boat Festival, and the Moon (Mid-Autumn) Festival. The Lantern Festival is the last day of the Lunar New Year holiday, which falls on the 15th day of the Chinese Lunar New Year.
The main theme of the holidays is for people to get together with family. The Chinese holidays are all based on the lunar calendar so they are on different dates as compared to the western calendar.
Lunar New Year
In the first day of the Lunar New Year, people in northern China eat dumplings, which symbolize prosperity. The dumplings symbolize prosperity because they are similar to sycee (元宝 yuanbao, used as a currency for centuries in China). Usually people in southern China eat sweet dumplings, which are filled with a sweet stuffing such as sesame, peanut, and red bean.
As most people know, the red envelope on the Chinese New Year is a very important custom. Usually parents give red envelopes to children, yet when children grow up and work they will give red envelopes to parents and grandparents.
In Chinese society, it is common that people believe in both Taoism and Buddhism. So on the Lunar New Year, the Chinese will attend Taoist or Buddhist temples to worship the Bodhisattva and their family ancestors. Also people play mahjong with friends on the holiday.
Since Chinese people living in New York City and America have to follow the American calendar, it is rare that the Chinese here in New York get to the celebrate the holiday. But luckily in 2010, the Chinese Lunar New Year and New Year's Eve fell on Saturday and Sunday, so most Chinese people seized the opportunity to get together with family and friends and enjoyed celebrating their most important traditional holiday.
Dragon Boat Festival
The Dragon Boat Festival is for commemorating the death of Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese Poet from the kingdom of Chu who lived during the Warring States period. He drowned himself in the Miluo river as a warning to his king. People threw packets of rice into the river to prevent the fish from eating his body. This was how the traditional food "zongzi" came about, which is made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves.
Moon (Mid-Autumn) Festival
Moon (Mid-Autumn) Festival is a popular lunar harvest festival. It became popular during the early Tang Dynasty. Other than symbolizing harvest, the Moon Festival has a legend and a historical/political story behind it. You may find the source on Wikipedia.The food for the festival is well known as a moon cake, which many people like.
For these traditional foods, you may find them in many Chinese societies. They are in Chinatown in Manhattan, Flushing and Elmhurst in Queens, and 8th Ave and Bensonhurst in Brooklyn.
Thanks for reading about the Chinese festivals. I hope you were able to learn more about them and most importantly more about the Chinese culture. Please continue to browse the Hills Learning website for more information on the Chinese culture and language.