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Four Festivals
Spring Festival and Lantern Festival

Spring Festival begins a new lunar year and ends fifteen days later on the evening of the Lantern Festival. Some customs are regional, while others are common throughout China. Couplets written on red paper and strings of red firecrackers adorn Chinese homes. Families enjoy elaborate feasts at round tables. Adults give children red envelopes filled with money for good luck. As more Chinese move into cities, the return to rural hometowns for Spring Festival has become the largest annual human migration in the world.

Pure Brightness/Qing Ming Festival

Qing Ming is the only Chinese public holiday based on neither the lunar nor Gregorian calendars, but rather on solar terms. On this day, many people remember and honor the deceased by sweeping and decorating ancestral graves, burning incense and joss paper money, and making food offerings. Because it occurs just fifteen days after the Spring Equinox, picnics and kite-flying are popular ways to celebrate the holiday.

Dragon Boat Festival

The fifth day of the fifth lunar month is Dragon Boat Festival. The festival is most commonly associated with the legend of Qu Yuan, a poet and court official who drowned himself in 278 BCE to protest imperial corruption. According to legend, grieving villagers searched for his body and threw rice in the water so that fish would eat it instead of the poet. Today people commemorate Qu Yuan through traditions such as racing ornate dragon boats, wearing perfumed sachets, and eating sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves.

Mid-Autumn/Moon Festival

On the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, when family and friends gather to view the largest full moon of the year—its roundness a symbol of reunion—they are continuing a 3,000-year tradition. Families celebrate a bountiful harvest and their time together by eating moon cakes—rich pastries with sweet or savory filling—with tea and pomelos, reciting poetry, and listening to music.

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