Ancient China traditions often were related to festivals throughout the year. There were many everyday traditions in ancient China like proper handshakes, facing the front door of a house to the south, praying to the kitchen god, and giving respect to their deceased elders.
Ancient Chinese traditions that celebrated life, learning, the gods, and family were important in the northern and southern regions of ancient China.
Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year was also known as the Spring Festival. The Chinese New Year was the most important celebration of the year.
Dating back to the Shang Dynasty some 3,000 years, the Chinese New Year lasted for 15 days starting on the first day of the year and ending with the Lantern Festival.
Red is a very popular color during the Spring Festival to help protect people from the monster Nian. During the festival gifts are exchanged and there are plenty of fireworks.
The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the last day of the Chinese New Year. Started during the Han Dynasty, the Lantern Festival celebrated Buddha.
Traditions of the Lantern Festival include specialty food like rice dumplings, solving puzzles and important dances like the dragon and lion.
The Qingming Festival was also known as the Clear and Bright Festival. The festival was important for farmers to plow and sow their fields.
Traditions of the Qingming Festival included sacrifices to dead ancestors, planting tree, cleaning the tombs of the dead, eating cold foods, and flying kites for fun.
Dragon Boat Festival
The Dragon Boat Festival is a colorful festival that started during the Zhou Dynasty. The festival happens every year on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month of the Chinese calendar.
The festival is significant to the ancient Chinese who believe the poet Qu Yuan jumped into a river and killed himself.
Traditions during the Dragon Boat Festival include eating rice dumplings, people wore perfume to protect them from evil beings and of course there was colorful dragon boats racing.
Night of Sevens Festival
First celebrated during the Han Dynasty, the Night of Sevens Festival takes place on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. The celebration is about the love two people have for each other.
After being separated by the Queen of Heaven the couple finds each other again. Traditions of the festival include praying for a worthy husband and to the stars.
The Moon Festival was also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival started during the Zhou Dynasty. The festival takes place in September to celebrate the harvest.
Traditions during the festival include eating moon cakes which started under the Yuan Dynasty.
Double Ninth Festival
The most revered number in ancient China was nine. Nine was the lucky number for dragons and the emperor. The Double Ninth Festival happens on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month.
Traditions on this day include drinking chrysanthemum tea to protect themselves from evil spirits and people would climb a hill or mountain.
Winter Solstice Festival
The Winter Solstice Festival celebrated the shortest day of the year. This celebration was first popular during the Han Dynasty.
Traditions on this day included sacrifices to their ancestors, no work and meeting with family and friends.
Important facts about ancient China traditions
- Ancient Chinese traditions included everything from a proper handshake to a south facing front door of a house to sacrificing items to the dead.
- Most ancient Chinese traditions were associated with festivals.
- Celebrating the Chinese New Year was the most popular festival in ancient China.
- Ancient Chinese honored Buddha during the Lantern Festival.
- The Dragon Boat Festival was a festive time with traditions like dragon boat racing and wearing perfume to ward off evil spirits.
- Rice dumpling was a traditional food eaten at many of the festivals.
- The number nine is considered to be the luckiest number in ancient China.
- The Winter Solstice Festival celebrated the shortest day of the year.
1. What was the most popular festival in ancient China?
Chinese New Year
2. What was the traditional food that was consumed the most during ancient Chinese festivals?
3. What was considered to be the luckiest number in ancient China for emperors and dragons?
4. What did the Qingming Festival also know as the Clear and Bright Festival celebrate?
Plowing and sowing of fields
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