Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival

China’s Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated on month 8 day 15 of China’s lunar calendar (in September or October). Mid-Autumn Festival 2015 is on September 27.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is the second most important festival to Chinese people after the Spring Festival. Every year, when the festival comes, Chinese go home from every corner of the country and the world for family reunions.

Chinese people believe the full moon is a symbol of peace, prosperity, and family reunion. On Mid-Autumn night the harvest moon is supposed to be the brightest and fullest of the year, so the festival is also known as the “Day of Reunion” and the “Moon Festival”. This day is also considered as a harvest festival since fruits, vegetables and grain are harvested by this time.

Here are the things you should know about this special occasion, perhaps they could be a guide to what you can do on this day.

 
 Chinese festival

How Mid-Autumn Festival Began

The Mid-Autumn Festival has a history of over 3,000 years, dating back to moon worship in the Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BC). It‘s such an important festival that many poems were written about it, stories and legends on the festival are widespread, and its origins have been guessed at and explained by generations of Chinese.

Legend about Mid-Autumn Festival

 
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In the ancient past, there was a hero named Hou Yi who was excellent at archery. 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 Peng Meng, one of his apprentices, knew this secret. So, on the fifteenth of August in the lunar calendar, when Yi went hunting, Peng 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 very much her husband 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.

When the local people heard this, they arranged incense tables to worship the goddess Chang’e, praying for happiness and safety. Since then, worshipping and appreciating the moon during Mid-Autumn festival has become popular.

Mooncakes — the Must-Eat Mid-Autumn Treat

 
 Chinese festival

Mooncakes are traditional Chinese pastries eaten to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. The festival typically involves much giving, receiving, and eating of mooncakes.

Chinese mooncakes are the traditional dessert/snack of Mid-Autumn Festival. They are round in shape, like the full harvest moon of Mid-Autumn’s evening. Up to 10 cm (4 inches) wide and 5 cm (2 inches) deep, most mooncakes consist of a pastry skin enveloping a sweet, dense filling.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

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Traditional Chinese Dragon Boat Festival

The Duanwu or Dragon Boat Festival, which is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, falls on June 20 this year. It is one of the oldest festivals, not only in China but also throughout the world, with a history of more than 2,000 years.

Poet Qu Yuan in a painting.
 Chinese Culture

The Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a patriot poet during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), who committed suicide by flinging himself into the Miluo River in Central China’s Hunan province after his mother kingdom fell into enemy rule.

Legend holds that people in boats raced to the site where he drowned and threw in zongzi (glutinous rice wrapped in reed leaves) so fish wouldn’t feed on Qu’s body.

Since then, the fifth day of the fifth month on the lunar calendar is celebrated as the Dragon Boat Festival. People hold boat races and prepare zongzi in memory of Qu’s righteousness and his beautiful poems.

1. Eating Zongzi

Different varieties of zongzi tempt the palate.
 Chinese Culture

Also called glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in reed or bamboo leaves, zongzi is an essential Dragon Boat Festival food, but tastes vary between the north and south of China.

In the north people favor sweet zongzi and jujube is used as a filling, while in the south zongzi takes different shapes and various fillings, such as fresh meat, egg yolk, sweetened bean paste or ham.

2. Dragon boat racing

Competitors row a dragon boat during a race in East China’s Anhui Province.
 Chinese Culture

Dragon boat racing is an indispensable part of the festival with the boats so named because the fore and stern are in the shape of a Chinese dragon.

Legend has it that the race originates from the idea that people rowed boats to seek Qu Yuan’s body after he drowned.

3. Hanging auspicious leaves

People hang mugwort leaves and calamus on doors and windows to repel insects and moths.
 Chinese Culture

It is said that the fifth lunar month is considered a “poisonous” one in the Chinese farmer’s almanac because insects and pests are active and it is also high season for people catching infectious diseases.

During the Dragon Boat Festival people in southern China put mugwort leaves and calamus on the doors or windows to keep insects out of their homes. The leaves are believed to have curative properties.

4. Wearing scented sachets and five-color silk thread

A child with scented sachets.
 Chinese Culture

In the north, people believe that wearing scented sachets protects children from evil. The young decorate their clothes with small pouches made from colorful silk cloth with five-color silk thread.

Another custom is to tie thread around a child’s wrists, ankles and neck. Five-color thread holds special significance in China in that it is thought to contain magical and healing properties. Children are not permitted to speak while parents tie the thread for them, neither are they allowed to remove it until after the first summer rainfall when they throw the thread into the river. This is thought to protect them from plague and disease.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.

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6 cultural differences between China and the US

Living in a culture that is different from your own can be both an exciting and challenging experience. You have to learn different cultural practices and try to adapt to them. The following contents are the top six cultural differences between China and the US to help promote mutual understanding.

 
 Chinese Culture

1. Privacy

Chinese people do not have the same concept of privacy as Americans do. They talk about topics such as ages, income or marital status, which Americans think is annoying and intrusive.

2. Family

In China, elders are traditionally treated with enormous respect and dignity while the young are cherished and nurtured. In America, the goal of the family is to encourage independence, particularly that of the children. Unlike the Chinese, older Americans seldom live with their children.

3. Friends

Chinese people have different meanings to define friends. Just hanging out together time to time is not friendship. Friendship means lifelong friends who feel deeply obligated to give each other whatever help might seem required. Americans always call people they meet friends, so the definition of friends is general and different. There are work friends, playing friends, school friends and drinking friends.

4. Money

As is well known, the Chinese like to save. They are always conservative when they are planning to spend money. It is different in the USA, where far fewer families are saving money for emergencies and education than their Chinese counterparts.

5. Education

Chinese people value education and career more than Americans, who in turn put more emphasis on good character and faith.

6. Collectivism vs. Individualism

Basically China values the community and the US values the individual. If you achieve something in the US, it’s because you were great. While in China, if you achieve something in China it’s because the team, or family, or company is great. Everything you do gets attributed to the greater whole, while in America individual merits are celebrated.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

We co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.

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Chinese Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival (or Yuan Xiao Festival in Chinese) is a traditional Chinese festival with great significance, which is on the 15th of the first lunar month, marking the end of New Year celebrations. During the Lantern Festival, children go out at night carrying paper lanterns and solve riddles on the lanterns.

 
 Chinese Culture

Here are some things you should know about the Lantern Festival.

A sea of lanterns

 
 Chinese Culture

The biggest attraction of the Lantern Festival is the sea of lanterns in every conceivable size and shape. This is a festival for people to have fun. At night, people go into the streets with a variety of lanterns under the full moon and watch the lion or dragon dance, try to solve Chinese riddles and play games, enjoy typical food called Yuan Xiao and set off firecrackers. There is really a lot of fun for the young and the old.

Eating small dumpling balls

 
 Chinese Culture

Just as the name implies, an important part of the Lantern Festival, or Yuan Xiao Festival, is to eat small dumpling balls made of glutinous rice flour. We call these balls Yuan Xiao, or Tang Yuan. Obviously, they get the name from the festival itself. Made of sticky rice flour filled with sweet or salty stuffing and round in shape, the dumpling symbolizes family unity, completeness and happiness. Sweet fillings are made of sugar, walnuts, sesame, osmanthus flowers, rose petals, sweetened tangerine peel, bean paste or jujube paste. A single ingredient or any combination can be used as the filling. The salty variety is filled with minced meat, vegetables or a mixture of both.

Guessing lantern riddles

 
 Chinese Culture

When it comes to the Lantern Festival, “Guessing lantern riddles” is an essential component. Lantern owners will write riddles on a piece of paper and post them on the lanterns in advance. If visitors can answer the riddles, they can just pull the paper out and go to the lantern owners to check their answers. If they are right, they will get a little gift. The activity emerged during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). As riddle guessing is interesting and full of wisdom, it has become popular among all social strata.

Watching fireworks

 
 Chinese Culture

At night, in addition to magnificent lighted lanterns, fireworks form a grand scene. Most families save some fireworks from the Spring Festival and set them off during the Lantern Festival. Some local governments will even organize a fireworks party. On the night when the first full moon enters the New Year, people become really intoxicated by the imposing fireworks and bright moon in the sky.

Dragon dance

 
 Chinese Culture

The dragon dance, a form of traditional dance and performance in Chinese culture, is often seen in some festival celebrations. The dance is performed by a team of dancers who manipulate a long flexible figure of a dragon using poles positioned at regular intervals along the length of the dragon. The dance team mimics the supposed movements of this river spirit in a sinuous, undulating manner. Chinese dragons are a symbol of China, and they are believed to bring good luck to people, therefore the longer the dragon in the dance, the more luck it will bring to the community.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

We co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.

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Traditional Chinese Spring Festival customs

Spring Festival, which falls on the 1st day of the 1st lunar month according to Chinese lunar calendar, is the most important festival in China and a time for family reunion, like Christmas in the West.

Traditionally, Spring Festival starts in the early days of the 12th month of the lunar calendar and lasts until the middle of the 1st lunar month of the following year. With the modernization of China, some traditional customs are still followed today, but others have fallen by the wayside.

Here are some customs that traditionally celebrate the Spring Festival.

 
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Little New Year, which falls the 23rd day of the 12th month in the Lunar calendar, is also known as the Festival of the Kitchen God, the deity who oversees the moral character of each household.People make sacrifices to the Kitchen Gold on this day.

 
 Chinese Culture

Families undertake thorough house cleaning on the 24th day of the 12th month in the Lunar calendar, sweeping out the old in preparation for the coming year.

 
 Chinese Culture

After people have cleaned the house and started preparing food, they begin decorating their homes creating an atmosphere of rejoicing and festivity on the 28th day of the 12th month in the Lunar Calendar. Decorations include spring couplets, New Year pictures, posters of door gods and paper-cuts.

 
 Chinese Culture

On the 29th day of the 12th lunar month people visit the graves of their ancestors to honor their memory. It is said Spring Festival originated in the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600 BC-c. 1100 BC) from the people’s sacrifice to gods and ancestors at the end of an old year and the start of a new one.

 
 Chinese Culture

Chinese people are supposed to stay up the whole night on the 30th day of the 12th month in the Lunar Calendar.

In Chinese mythology, a monster called nian would come out to harm people on New Year’s Eve, so people get together, staying up and chatting, hoping for a peaceful passage of time. The custom of staying up symbolizes the warding off of all diseases and disasters and wishing good luck in the New Year.

Chinese people attach great importance to the Spring Festival Eve, when all family members eat dinner together.

 
 Chinese Culture

The first day of Chinese New Year, also known as the “day of chicken”, officially begins at midnight.

It is traditional to light firecrackers and make as much of a din as possible to chase off the evil monster nian.

Most importantly the oldest and most senior members are visited with the visits strengthening family kinship.

Senior members of the family hand out red envelopes containing cash (Chinese: ya sui qian), a form of blessing and to suppress aging and the challenges of the coming year, to junior members of the family, mostly children and teenagers.

On the second day, married daughters usually go back to their own family to visit parents, relatives and close friends.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

We co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.

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Taboos of gift-giving in Chinese culture

According to Chinese culture, there are some taboos which you should bear in mind when you choose gifts for others. As the Chinese New Year is drawing near, which is also a gift giving season; it’s necessary to review these taboos.

1. No or clocks for seniors

 
 Chinese Culture

Clock pronounced as “Zhong” in mandarin, means “the end”. Therefore, giving someone a clock implies “your time is up”, a serious slight, especially for the elders.

2. No umbrellas or pears for lovers

 
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Umbrella pronounced as “San” and pear pronounced as “Li” in Chinese, both mean”separation”. So it’s inappropriate to give lovers umbrellas and pears, because it will seem like you want them to be separated. Also, don’t give your friends umbrellas as a gift; it is not a good symbol of friendship. Of course, the timely act of giving someone an umbrella ona rainy day can be an exception.

3. No green hats for men

 
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Hats are not a good choice for gifts. Particularly, green hats for males are especially bad. In Chinese saying a man wears a”green hat” means his wife is having an affair, which is a serious insult to the man.

4. No medicine for the healthy

 
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Giving someone medicine as a gift implies that the receiver will get sick or you want them to get sick. Even health care products are inappropriate for others if they are not very familiar friends or relatives of yours.

5. No shoes for non-family members

 
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Shoe, pronounced “Xie”, is a homonym for “evil” in mandarin, is considered an unlucky item to give as a gift. If the shoes you give are much smaller than the wearer’s feet size, it means”give someone tight shoes to wear”, which bears the meaning of “make things hard for somebody”.

6. Gift packages should avoid the colors white and black

 
 Chinese Culture

In Chinese culture, black and white are colors associated with funerals or unfortunate things and considered unlucky colors. Therefore, it’s better to make gift packaging red or other warm colors, symbolizing happiness and harmony.

7. Red envelopes with money for the kids, especially during Spring Festival

A boy shows the red envelopes he received during Spring Festival.
 Chinese Culture

If you are not sure what to give as a gift, a “red envelop” can be a universal gift. Red envelops are red paper packets packed with money. You can give your friends or relatives’ children red envelops as a way to express your greetings. As in Chinese custom, during the Chinese New Year, seniors will give children red envelops with lucky money inside to express their love.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

We co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.

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Winter Solstice in China

The traditional Chinese lunar calendar divides the year into 24 solar terms. Winter Solstice, the 22nd solar term of the year, begins this year on Dec 22 and ends on Jan 6.

On the first day of Winter Solstice, the Northern Hemisphere experiences the shortest day and the longest night in the year, as the sun shines directly at the Tropic of Capricorn. From then on, the days become longer and the nights become shorter. The Winter Solstice also marks the arrival of the coldest season in the year.

Here are nine things you should know about Winter Solstice.

The Winter Solstice Festival

There was a saying that went in ancient China, “The Winter Solstice is as significant as the Spring Festival.”

 
 Chinese Culture

As early as Zhou Dynasty (c.11th century-256BC), people worshipped the gods on the first day of the Winter Solstice, which was also the first day of the new year. The Winter Solstice became a winter festival during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220AD). The celebratory activities were officially organized. On this day, both officials and common people would have a rest.

During subsequent dynasties, such as the Tang (618-907), Song (960-1279) and Qing dynasties (1644-1911), the Winter Solstice was a day to offer sacrifices to Heaven and to ancestors.

Eating nuts

When midwinter comes, vital movement begins to decline and calm down. In this period, eating an appropriate amount of nuts, such as peanuts, walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts and almonds, is good for one’s body. Traditional Chinese medical science teaches that the quality of a nut is tepidity and most nuts have the function of nourishing the kidneys and strengthening the brain and heart.

 
 Chinese Culture

Eating dumplings

During Winter Solstice in North China, eating dumplings is essential to the festival. There is a saying that goes “Have dumplings on the first day of Winter Solstice and noodles on the first day of Summer Solstice.”

Dumplings
 Chinese Culture

Eating wontons

People in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, are accustomed to eating wontons in midwinter. According to legend, during the midwinter feast 2,500 years ago, the King of Wu (one of the states during the Western Zhou Dynasty and the Spring and Autumn Period) was disgusted with all kinds of costly foods and wanted to eat something different. Then, the beauty Xishi came into the kitchen to make “wontons” to honor the king’s wish. He ate a lot and liked the food very much. To commemorate Xishi, the people of Suzhou made wontons the official food to celebrate the festival.

Wontons
 Chinese Culture

Eating tangyuan

In places such as Shanghai, people eat tangyuan, a kind of stuffed small dumpling ball made of glutinous rice flour to celebrate Winter Solstice.

Tangyuan
 Chinese Culture

Eating mutton and vermicelli soup

In Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, people call midwinter the “Ghost Festival”. On that day, it is customary for people there to drink mutton and vermicelli soup and eat the dumplings in the soup. They give the midwinter soup a strange name: “brain” and share it with their neighbors.

mutton and vermicelli soup
 Chinese Culture

Eating rice cakes

During the Winter Solstice, Hangzhou residents traditionally eat rice cakes. In the past, before the approach of the winter solstice, every household would make the cakes to worship their ancestors or use as gifts for relatives and friends. Today, though fewer families eat home-made cakes, people there still buy rice cakes for the Winter Solstice Festival.

A dish made with rice cakes.
 Chinese Culture

Offering nine-layer cakes to ancestors

Taiwan residents keep the custom of offering nine-layer cakes to their ancestors. People with the same surname or family clan gather at their ancestral temples to worship their ancestors in order of their ages. After the sacrificial ceremony, there is always a grand banquet.

Nine-layer cakes
 Chinese Culture

Eating red-bean and glutinous rice

In some regions south of the Yangtze River on the first day of Winter Solstice, the whole family gets together to have a meal made of red-bean and glutinous rice to drive away ghosts and other evil things.

Red-bean and glutinous rice porridge.
 Chinese Culture

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

We co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!