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Traditional Chinese Holidays
A few of the major holidays.
Chinese New Year (First day of the first lunar month.)
This is the most important holiday in Chinese Culture and is celebrated throughout the world by people living in and outside of China. Chinese New Year's Eve is also a time of celebration with cleaning of the house, putting up traditional decorations and having a ten course meal at the family reunion dinner (families come together to celebrate Chinese New year). There is also a fish entree that will symbolize abundance for the coming year, though there should be some left because this will symbolize the abundance.
Winter Solstice Festival (At the Winter Solstice, usually around December 22.)
The Dongzhi Festival, or Winter Solstice Festival, is essentially the Chinese equivalent of the American Holiday of Thanksgiving. There are families gathered together and meals eaten, with some traditional foods being eaten as well. In southern areas of China, a glutinous rice ball style food is made and eaten to symbolize the reunion of families.
In the north, dumplings are the choice due to a story of a Chinese Physician, Zhang Zhongjing, seeing the poor suffering from an ear related cold problem and ordering dumplings to be made to help with the problem. The origin of this holiday relates from a yin and yang concept, in which the longer days represents an increase in positive energy that will be flowing into the world.
Mid-Autumn Festival (The 15th day of the 8th month in the lunar year.)
This particular festival has an interesting story associated with it. Accordingly, during the Mongol rule of the current people of China during the 14th century, group gatherings were banned and therefore it was not possible to organize a rebellion. However, one of the advisors to the rebel group leader suggested a very ingenious plan.
There is a type of Chinese food called a Moon cake and this advisor noticed that the Mongols did not eat them. He therefore devised a plan that would involve distributing Moon cakes to bless the longevity of the Mongolian Emperor. Inside these cakes, however, was a message stating that the people should attack the Mongols on the 15th day of the 8th month, the time of the Mid-Autumn Festival.
One of the things that China is well known for is its architecture. Dating back several thousand years, the style that the Chinese use to construct their buildings has not deviated much, though there is a greater demand for Western style buildings in urban areas of China. This has not caused a loss in the building of traditional Chinese style buildings, as their is still space to construct such buildings in the rural areas of China. There have been attempts to mix traditional Chinese architecture with the Western style, though these attempts have not been greatly successful.
There are several things that take part in influencing the structure of Chinese architecture. One of the major concepts is that of maintaining symmetry, symbolizing balance. (Chinese Gardens are an exception, due to the fact that the gardens are designed to emulate nature.) The idea of a yard is different in Chinese culture, in that buildings surrounding an open area are common, whether it be a courtyard or a "sky well" (an opening of sorts to allow sunlight).
Another aspect of Chinese architecture that differs from the West is that of emphasizing the width instead of the height of a building. Hierarchy is another consideration, in that those buildings which are less important are built towards the front of a complex with the more important buildings reserved for the back, which is a symbol of honor. Buildings also incorporate certain colors and numbers into their design to produce a very rich design.
Lion Dances are a very interesting aspect of Chinese culture. There are generally two performers who take part in performing due to the style of the costume. (It's easy to see how this is done by looking at the pictures.) Lion dances are a very interesting cultural experience that has been around for about a thousand years.
According to Chinese tradition, the lion is a guardian creature and is featured in Buddhist lore, specifically as the riding mount for the bodhisattva Manjusri. Several Asian countries surrounding China have also developed their own style of Lion Dance.