China

Through the Seasons

Festivals and celebrations are occasions for reunion—they remind people of their relationships with others (past and present) and with nature (the seasons and the land).

Many Chinese festivals mark the changing seasons, which people associate with particular legends, symbols, artistic forms, activities, food, and customs. They are occasions when people gather in celebration and to reaffirm connections with the past through the continuation of certain traditions.

The dates of most festivals follow the lunar calendar and solar terms. The lunar calendar charts out the year according to moon phases; the twenty-four solar terms correspond with the sun’s changing position throughout the year. Spring Festival (Lunar New Year), Lantern Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, and Mid-Autumn Festival are lunar events. Qing Ming and the Winter Solstice are solar term festivals. In Chinese traditional culture, the lunar months and solar terms reflect deep connections with the environment.

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People express their hopes and wishes by tying blessing bags to and around trees at the Tianhou Palace in Qingdao, Shandong Province, 2014. Photo by and courtesy of Yifei Chen