The variety of ethnic groups that inhabit China since antiquity has caused the country to enjoy many festivities, some of them ancestral. The most well-known of all is the celebrations organized for the Chinese New Year, which is celebrated in Chinese neighborhoods around the world.
Each year this festival is related to a different animal of the Chinese horoscope, hence its meaning varies each edition. China is governed by the lunar calendar, so most of its holidays are subject to the moon. Some of the common characteristics of many of its festivities are their colourful costumes, music and traditional dances and parades.
The best-known celebration in China whose success has managed to cross borders thanks to the country's emigrants. The first day of the first lunar month is celebrated at the end of January. It welcomes spring and many of the locals return to their homes to celebrate with their families, although in the big cities you can find parades, music and traditional dances and great firework displays. The Chinese New Year is linked to the zodiac, so every year is represented by a different animal: rat, ox, rabbit, tiger, snake, dragon, goat, monkey, horse, dog, pig and rooster. The festivities last a whole week.
Declared as intangible heritage of UNESCO, the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated by different ethnic groups of China, especially those located along the Yangtze River. In the festivities, an image of a local hero is praised and different sports activities are carried out. The most famous of these are the regattas with boats decorated as dragons, hence the name of the party. There are also street markets with traditional food, music and dances. It is common to see the locals wearing silk clothes of different colors.
This festival originates from the tribe of the Hanis. It gives thanks for successful crops and there is a great gastronomic banquet where there is no shortage of food such as rice and meat. The ancestors are also worshipped and it is common to see the sacrifice of a cow that is later distributed among the members of the community.
The Lantern Festival is celebrated just after the Chinese New Year, on the first full moon. Although it is a family holiday, since people usually meet for lunch and dinner, this festival comes alive at night, when children and adults go out to the streets to let off lanterns into the air. These are made of paper and symbolize a farewell to the old and a welcome to the new.
Also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, this celebration goes back to the agricultural traditions of antiquity, when locals gathered to give thanks for good harvests. During this time the fruits are at their best, hence the fact that even the emperors of yesteryear dedicated a few days to thank the autumn moon. In the main cities of China, this festival is celebrated with parades of dragons, music and popular dances.
On October 1, the foundation of the People's Republic of China, established in 1949, is celebrated throughout the country. Among the locals, it is called Golden Week since most workers have seven days holiday from work.
The Qing Ming festival is the Chinese Day of the Dead. As in other parts of the world, during this festival, the relatives of the deceased go to the cemeteries to clean the graves and burn offerings in honour of their ancestors. In addition, it is also common to see many of the locals making excursions to the Mianshan mountain, where they will spend the day relaxing.
The Torch Festival is celebrated among ethnic groups such as Bai, Hani, Yi, Pumi and Naxi. As its name suggests, fire torches are lit to illuminate the surrounding villages and fields. Originally, these were used to scare away animals from the crops, but the practice has evolved into a celebration where music and traditional dances take place around the fires.