Top 10 Traditional Festivals in China

Written by Sally Guo Updated Dec. 7, 2022

China has various traditional festivals which have been deep-rooted over a thousand years of history. When a festival comes, it is a good time to enjoy the pageantry and the colorful Chinese culture.

The dates of traditional Chinese festivals usually change every year according to the Chinese lunar calendar. Here we listed the top 10 traditional Chinese festivals with dates and celebrations.

1. Chinese New Year (Spring Festival)

The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, falls on the first day of the first lunar month. Chinese New Year is the most important festival in China. It is a grand family reunion time for Chinese people around the world.

The theme of the Spring Festival is getting rid of the old and making way for the new. There are lots of traditions and celebrations associated with the festival, such as putting up spring couplets, setting off fireworks, having a reunion dinner, and giving red envelopes.

Chinese New Year Dragon Dance
Chinese New Year Dragon Dance

2. Lantern Festival (Yuan Xiao Jie)

The Lantern Festival, also known as Yuan Xiao Jie or Shang Yuan Festival, falls on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, it traditionally marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebration.

Tangyuan (汤圆 tāng yuan), also called Yuan Xiao (元宵 yuán xiāo), is a must-eat food for the Lantern Festival. Shaped like a round ball, Tang Yuan symbolizes people's desires for happiness and family reunions.

Besides eating Tangyuan, Chinese people would also light colorful lanterns and guess lantern riddles to celebrate this festival.

3. Qingming Festival (Tomb Sweeping Day)

The Qingming Festival, also called Tomb Sweeping Day, is not only a traditional Chinese Festival but also the fifth of the standard Chinese 24 Solar Terms. It usually falls on April 4 or April 5 every year.

Qing ming (ching ming) means “the days are going to be warm and the plants are going to turn green.” It is a day for people to go out for tomb sweeping, spring outings, and kite flying.

Sweeping tombs on the Qingming Festival
Sweeping tombs on the Qingming Festivaltest

4. Dragon Boat Festival (Duan Wu Jie)

The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duan Wu Jie in Chinese, falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Chinese people celebrate this festival by racing dragon boats, eating Zongzi, drinking realgar wine, and hanging Chinese Mugwort to honor Qu Yuan.

Dragon Boat Racing during Dragon Boat Festival
Dragon Boat Racing during Dragon Boat Festival

5. Qixi Festival (Double Seventh Festival)

The Qixi Festival falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, also called Double Seventh Festival. In the past, girls would worship the weaver fairy and ask for a light hand for knitting during the festival. 

In modern times, it is the most romantic of traditional Chinese festivals, known as Chinese Valentine's Day. Young people usually celebrate it by giving flowers, chocolates, and other presents to their sweethearts, instead of doing the traditional customs.

6. Hungry Ghost Festival (Zhongyuan Festival)

The Hungry Ghost Festival is also called as Zhongyuan Festival by Taoists or Yulanpen Festival by Buddhists. It falls on the fifteenth day of the seventh lunar month.

Like the Qingming Festival, people would prepare ritualistic food offerings and burn incense and paper for the dead people. Through these activities, people express how much they miss their ancestors.

7. Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon Festival)

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival, falls on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. As the Chinese New Year, the Mid-Autumn Festival is also a grand time for family reunions.

Chinese people would eat moon cakes, admire the full moon, and hang up colorful lanterns during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Mid-Autumn Festival
The Full Moon on Mid-Autumn Festival

8. Double Ninth Festival (Chongyang Festival)

The Double Ninth Festival, also called the Chongyang Festival, falls on the ninth of the ninth lunar month. is a traditional Chinese festival for the elders. So it is known as Senior People’s Day.

Chinese people will visit senior family members, climb mountains, eat Chongyang cakes, and admire chrysanthemums to celebrate this festival.

Climbing Mountains on Chongyang Festival
Climbing Mountains at Chongyang Festival

9. Dongzhi Festival (Winter Solstice)

The Dongzhi Festival (Winter Solstice) is not only a traditional Chinese Festival but also the nineteenth of the traditional Chinese 24 Solar Terms. It usually falls on December 21 or December 22 every year.

Winter Solstice is the day when the daytime is the shortest and nighttime is the longest. Chinese people celebrate this festival by eating Chinese dumplings or Tangyuan with their families.

10. Laba Festival

The Laba Festival is a traditional Chinese festival to worship ancestors and pray for the harvest. It falls on the eighth day of the last lunar month. People usually eat laba porridge (made of diversified rice) to celebrate this festival.

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