There are huge cultural differences between countries, which leads to the different festivals we celebrate in different countries. For example, the United States has a holiday to commemorate the president’s birthday, and ethnic minorities have their own special festivals to celebrate, while China also has its own special traditional festivals—the Twenty-Four Solar Term Holidays, or traditional Chinese festivals.
Traditional Chinese festivals are not just about commemorating a particular day. They are also a scientifically-based reminder of the changing seasons. They remind the farmer that it is time to plant or harvest, remind us that we can add a coat or wear less, or tell us what to eat at different times. When the festival is celebrated varies from year to year, depending on the Chinese lunar calendar. So in today’s article, I will introduce the basic meaning of each holiday and how to celebrate it.
Beginning of spring/Lichun: the longitude of the sun is 315 degrees. It falls on February 3-5.
Rain/Yushui: The longitude of the sun is 330°. It falls on February 18-20.
Awakening of Insects/Jingzhe: The longitude of the sun is 345°. The Gregorian calendar falls on March 05-07.
Vernal Equinox/Chunfen: The longitude of the sun is 0°. The Gregorian calendar falls on March 20-22.
Qingming: The longitude of the sun is 15°. The Gregorian calendar falls on April 04-06.
Grain Rain/Guyu: The longitude of the sun is 30°. The Gregorian calendar falls on April 19-21.
Start of Summer/Lixia: The longitude of the sun is 45°. The Gregorian calendar falls on May 05-07.
Xiaoman: The sun’s longitude is 60°. It falls on May 20-22 in the Gregorian calendar.
The grain in Ear/Mangzhong: The longitude of the sun is 75°. The festival falls on June 05-07 in the Gregorian calendar.
Summer solstice/Xiazhi: the longitude of the sun is 90°. It falls on June 21-22 in the Gregorian calendar.
Slight Heat/Xiaoshu: The longitude of the sun is 105°. The festival falls on July 06-08 in the Gregorian calendar.
Major Heat/Dashu: The longitude of the sun is 120°. It falls on July 22-24 in the Gregorian calendar.
Start of Autumn/Liqiu: The longitude of the sun is 135°. The Gregorian calendar falls on August 07-09.
End of Heat/Chushu: The longitude of the sun is 150°. It falls on August 22-24 in the Gregorian calendar.
White Dew/Bailu: The sun’s longitude is 165°. The Gregorian calendar falls on September 07-09.
Autumnal Equinox/Qiufen: The longitude of the sun is 180°. The Gregorian calendar falls on September 22-24.
Cold Dew/Hanlu: The longitude of the sun is 195°. It falls on October 08-09 in the Gregorian calendar.
Frost’s Descent/Shuangjiang: The longitude of the sun is 210°. It falls on October 23-24 in the Gregorian calendar.
Start of winter/Lidong: the longitude of the sun is 225°. The Gregorian calendar falls on November 7-8.
Light Snow/Xiaoxue: Solar longitude is 240°. The Gregorian calendar falls on November 22-23.
Heavy snow/Daxue: Sun longitude 255°. It falls on December 6-8 in the Gregorian calendar.
Winter solstice/Dongzhi: The sun’s longitude is 270°. The Gregorian calendar falls on December 21-23.
Minor Cold/Xiaohan: Solar longitude is 285°. It falls on January 5-7 in the Gregorian calendar.
Major Cold/Dahan: The longitude of the sun is 300°. It falls on January 20-21 in the Gregorian calendar.
What I had posted above, was only speaking from the Chinese perspective, since the geography of China and the US is totally different, so the timing or the longitude can also be very different. However, it’s always better to have one more festival for people to celebrate and share happiness with friends or families. How can we celebrate those festivals that have been created for seasons? Well, there are different and delicious foods people eat on these holidays, and here I will be talking about some festivals that I had experienced, and what I and my family had eaten.
Vernal Equinox/Chunfen: At this date, people eat sweet dumplings, we usually make those dumplings by ourselves. Those dumplings are round, and with red beans inside, they make people feel warm and wish to have a good start to this beautiful year.
Grain rain/Guyu: The celebration for this holiday was the easiest, we eat rice. This is the day when some kinds of vegetables begin to be on sale, and it totally gets us into the mood for spring. Everything’s alive with energy.
Start of Summer/Lixia: At this festival, we eat a kind of salt-made egg, it’s really good! Some old Chinese people think that eating eggs in summer is good for human beings and it makes people full of energy. Well, I don’t know if it really will make people more energetic, however, the egg was great.
Xiaoman: This festival is my least favorite, but my mom loves it, because, at this festival, we eat vegetables to celebrate! It’s not just vegetables, it’s also bitter vegetables. That’s definitely not nice.
Summer solstice/Xiazhi: At this festival, we eat noodles. Even though noodles as food is pretty usual, but on a hot summer night when you are hungry and you have hot spicy noodles to eat, it’s just great. There’s actually a legend behind this about why we eat noodles on this day. But I only remember how tasty the noodles are and I don’t remember the story.
Major Heat/Dashu: At this festival, we usually eat a Taiwan dessert called Xiancao, it tastes sweet and soft like jelly, but it’s made out of plants so it’s healthy. We usually eat it with nuts or beans, and milk tea. It’s always the best part of summer.
Start of Autumn/Liqiu: On this day of the festival, we usually eat watermelon. Watermelon is the fruit that usually represents summer, but at the end of the summer, and here, it means that we’ve already been through a long and hot summer, and now we face the coolness.
White Dew/Bailu: This is the festival for another fruit—litchi. Elders said that there are many benefits of litchi, for example, it helps people to sleep better.
Frost’s Descent/Shuangjiang: Autumn has a lot of festivals about fruits, and here comes another one, the festival for persimmon. Shuangjiang was the day when persimmons were ready to eat, and that’s the best time to have persimmon.
Start of winter/Lidong: This is the festival that most people celebrate. Pretty much all Chinese eat dumplings on this day. Dumplings represent home in some ways and having some warm dumplings in winter with family always sounds good. It makes people feel the warmth inside at the beginning of the cold winter.
Heavy snow/Daxue: There’s a kind of tradition and special meat made by the Chinese: we put lots of salt and sauce on pork and put them in an airtight space. We wait for about a week to make sure the sauce gets into the pork. After that process, we get them out and eat them. You can put them in the refrigerator for a long time and they will not stink!
Minor Cold/Xiaohan: The food for this festival is pretty normal, we just cook rice with meat and vegetables in it. Even though it’s normal, it’s still delicious.
So what I’ve written about my experience with Chinese festivals is only a very small part of these traditions. There’s still a lot more to explore. However, the most important and main concept of pretty much all festivals is to stay healthy and be with families.