China Research Project:Festivals and Foods By: Alicia, Austin & Emily China Prep Module December 5th, 2012
Mid-Autumn Festival/Moon Festival • When: Happens on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month • History: • The emperors in ancient China offered sacrifices to the sun in spring and to the moon in autumn • Later on, aristocrats and other literary figures expand this ceremony to common people • People enjoyed a full, bright moon on this day; worshiping it and expressing their thoughts and feelings under it
Origin • The folklore about this was that there were ten suns rising in the sky • The sun dried up all the crops and drove people into poverty • A man, along the name of Hou Yi, was worried about the people who were suffering from the poverty and ascended to the top of the Kunlun Mountain • He drew his extraordinary bow, aimed, and shot for the suns one after another • He left the last sun and ordered it to rise and set according to time • Because of this, many people respected and loved him • One day Hou Yi was on his way to Kunlun Mountain when he ran upon the Empress of Heaven Wangmu • Empress Wangmu handed him a parcel of elixir and told Hou Yi that one would ascend immediately to heaven and become a celestial being • Hou Yi did not want to be parted with his wife Chang E, so he gave the elixir to her to keep for the time being • Chang E hid it in a treasure box when a person called PengMeng unexpectedly saw it
Origin • One day when Hou Yi went off to go hunting, PengMeng appeared to Chang E with a sword in his hand • He forced Chang E to hand over the elixir, but as she was bringing out the elixir and swallowed it • Immediately, her body floated off the ground and flew towards heaven • When Hou Yi returned home, the maidservants told him what had happened • Grieved, he looked up to the moon and called out his wife's name • To his surprise, he noticed that the moon was especially clear and bright and he saw on it, there was a swaying shadow that looked exactly like his wife • He tried to chase after the moon, but the more he ran, the more the moon retreated from him. He could not get to the moon at all • When people heard that Chang E had become a celestial being, they arranged an incense table under the moonlight and prayed for her for a good fortune and peace
This custom of worshiping the moon spread among people • The moon looks especially big and round on the 15th day of each lunar month • People selected August 15 to celebrate this event because it is when the crops and fruits are all ripe and the weather is good. • Today, people enjoy the full moon and eat moon cakes on that day, putting food on tables and looking up at the sky while talking about their lives
春節 Spring Festival • When: it starts on the first day of the first lunar month until the lantern festival, which is 15 days after • In 2013, the Spring Festival will begin on February 10 • It is also widely known as Chinese New Year
Origin • There is a beast (Nian) that goes around villages killing and eating people • The beast is tamed by an old man, who asks the beast if it can eat other beasts instead of people. The old man reminds the beast that people are no match to him anyways. • The old man disappears with the beast, and now people can enjoy their lives. • Before the man left, he told the people to put up red decorations on their doors and windows at the end of each year. If the beast were to sneak back again, it would be scared because red is the colour he feared the most.
Origin #2 • Nian is approaching the Peace Blossom village. Everyone flees, but an old man arrives at the village. While everyone thinks he’s crazy, an old lady warns him about the beast and tells him that he should leave as well. He laughs it off, asking if he can stay in her house overnight. • By the time Nian arrives at the village, the atmosphere is much more different than usual. In one house, which happened to be the house that the old man was staying in for the time being, it was decorated with red decorations. Inside of the house, the man had lit up candles, and showed no fear. • The beast is angry and approaches the house, but it becomes scared once he hears loud crackling noises, caused by firecrackers. The beast runs away from the village. • When the people of the Peach Blossom village returned, they were surprised to see that everything was alright, compared to everything being horribly destroyed as usual. They also find out that the old man is not there anymore. • They see what the old man has done, and realize that the colour red, flames, and explosions are what Nian feared the most.
Before the Spring Festival • Families would clean their whole house, including the indoors, outdoors, their clothes, bedding, and utensils • Doing this, they believed that this would bring in good fortune for the new year • They would also decorate their clean rooms with Spring Festival couplets • Pictures of the god of doors and wealth would be posted on their front doors • This would be done to ward off any evil spirits
During the Spring Festival • Common Chinese New Year activities include: • Firework shows • Dragon dancing • Lion dancing • During this festival, it would be a time for people to come home and celebrate the festival with their families • Gifts were given for children, elderly, friends, and relatives • Gifts include decorations, new clothes, and shoes • Each child would also get money as a New Years gift (red pocket)
What NOT to do • Words you should not say during the Spring Festival: • Bad, dead, kill, ill, ache (and any other similar words) • People think that the whole year will be terrible if you say these words • Sweeping the floor is strongly discouraged • This should be done prior to the festival • If you swept the floor, you would be sweeping off and driving away the good luck for the new year • You must be careful when holding plates, cups, and other fragile items • Cutting hair should be avoided until the second day of the lunar month
Spring Festival Food • NianGao (Glutinous Rice Cake) • The Southern Chinese would eat this • Made of sticky rice, sugar, chestnuts, Chinese dates and lotus leaves • Jiao Zi (Chinese Dumplings) • According to a legend – the more dumplings you eat during the celebration, the more money you make in the new year • Spring Rolls • Traditionally eaten during Chinese New Year • Nutritious and delicious • Usually contain pork and vegetables • Meals are also more luxurious during this time • Chicken, fish, and bean curd are a must • Ji, yu, doufu represent auspciousness(promising success), abundance, and richness
元宵節 The Lantern Festival • When: The Lantern Festival starts on the 15th day of the first lunar month, following the Spring Festival. • In 2013, the Lantern Festival will take place on February 24th. • This festival officially ends Chinese New Year celebrations.
Origin • With the Lantern Festival, there are dozens upon dozens of ideas and myths on how this festival came to be. But the more commonly accepted idea is that during the Han dynasty (about when Buddhism was becoming big), an emperor had heard that monks would light lanterns on the 15th day of the first lunar month to worship and pay respects to the Buddha. The emperor had liked this idea so much, that he ordered his palace be lit up with lanterns on that day. • Through this, the Lantern Festival has become very big, and has now spread all around throughout Asia.
The Festival • During the festival, lanterns are hung up not only just for occasion, but because they represent people’s doubts, and they are lit up by the lanterns and thus turning them to beliefs. • Guessing lanterns is another huge part in the festival. Owners would write riddles on their lanterns, and if an individual thought they knew the answer, they would take down the lantern, bring it to the owner and answer the riddle. If they were correct, they would win a small prize! This is a way of testing one’s wit and wisdom.
FOOD! :D • TangYuan (Glutinous Rice Balls) • This dish is served in all Chinese speaking regions • Symbolizes completeness, unity, and Harmony within the family. • Also eaten to remind us that we are a year older, and to look forward to another year, perhaps with resolution to do better or to have a good year all around.
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