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Important Chinese festivals

2010. 30 March

While Expo 2010 Shanghai is perhaps the biggest event in China this year, there's lots more to do in the world's most populous country.

( Of course, the spotlight will be on the 184-day World's Fair beginning May 1, but the people of the republic celebrate a seemingly endless series of festivals annually and have been doing so for much of the country's 5,000-year-old-history.

Chinese New Year, celebrated in the days leading up to Feb. 14 this year, is the biggest event on the country's calendar.

Some significant events on tap from now until the end of 2010:


Of all the major holidays celebrated in China, the Dragon Boat Festival has the longest history – of more than 2,000 years.

Scheduled for May 5, the folk festival's origins are open to debate. But, most say it is designed to commemorate the drowning death of revered patriot and poet Qu Yuan.

Crews of up to 80 rowers race in long dragon-like canoes to the beat of pounding drums and the cheers of spectators lining the river.

Everyone eats rice dumplings, and evil spirits are warded off by adults who wear talisman and children who carry fragrant silk pouches. Legend has it that, if you can balance a raw egg on its end at noon that day, the rest of the year will be lucky.


The Mid-Autumn Festival, or Harvest Moon Festival, is another very important holiday for the Chinese.

On the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, which happens to be Sept. 22 this year, the Chinese and people of Chinese descent around the world believe the moon is at its roundest and brightest.

That is said to signify abundance at the end of harvest time and is a symbol of reunion. Families and friends get together to admire and worship the moon and eat moon cakes and other food shaped like the moon. Some people watch special performances in parks or on public squares while others attend lantern shows featuring thousands of differently shaped lit lanterns.


The QiXi (Double Seven) Festival, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month – Aug. 16 this year – is the Chinese equivalent of Valentine's Day.


The Double Ninth Festival or Chongyang falls on the ninth day of the ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. It's a time to express joy for bringing in the harvest and to enjoy the bright clear weather. The Chinese take to the outdoors to go hiking and climbing in the country, enjoying Mother Nature's final burst of colour before winter arrives. Chongyang this year is on Sept. 16.


The Dong Zhi Winter Solstice Festival, observed on the longest night of the year, is a time for families to store their harvests, get together to enjoy the fruits of their labour and settle in for a period of joyful relaxation after their farm work is over. The Chinese put on performances to thank the gods for bringing them rich harvests and they pray for safety and prosperity in the year ahead.