What Comes After Spring Festival ? A Guide to a Few Spring Holidays
Chinese New Year is over, the firecrackers in the streets have finally died down, and everyone is back to daily life. But the party doesn’t end there! What about some of China’s holidays that come after the big festival? Here’s a guide to a few big events that are happening in spring this year.
三月街 San Yue Jie “Third Month Street”
The name of this Bai holiday is a play on words, as the word “街” (jie) meaning street shares the same sound as the word 节 (jie) meaning festival. In this case, the word for street references the street where merchants traditionally gather to host a giant market where almost anything is bought and sold. This event is big for the Bai people, and according to one travel site, it is even the “happiest day of the year” for them. We’ll have to conduct our own happiness survey.
Interestingly, there are several different stories about the origin of the holiday. One version says that Buddhism holds the key; the story goes that Guan Yin Buddha came to Dali to preach to the people, so every year believers would gather and bring offerings to worship. Another folk legend says that a local Dali fisherman married the third princess of the Dragon King. On the 15th of March, the princess and her husband rode a dragon to attend the “Yue Jie” festival on the moon, but they could not buy any of the items being sold there. When they returned, they decided to hold a festival of their own on Earth so the people could all buy things they liked.
Today, the fair lasts for a week and occurs at the foot of the Cang mountains, directly across the road from Dali Old Town. People of different ethnic minorities and even other nationalities come from around Asia to buy, sell, and trade livestock, foods, clothes, and other goods. In addition to the market itself, the festival features song and dance performances as well as sporting events like archery and horse racing.
Date: Last year’s 三月街 occurred on April 30, 2018. This year’s 三月街 will occur on April 19, 2019.
清明节 Qing Ming Jie “Tomb Sweeping Festival”
Celebrated all over China, this festival is a time to honor one’s ancestors and spruce up their final resting places. The history of this festival dates back to the Spring and Autumn period and is said to be in honor of the Duke of Wen’s loyal servant Jie Zitui. The story is as follows: Jie Zitui faithfully served his lord when the Duke was exiled, and even cut meat from his own leg to serve the lord when he was starving. When the Duke of Wen was restored to power, he forgot his servant who subsequently retired with his mother to live near Mount Mian. Later the lord was ashamed of his actions and went to find his servant, and for some reason he thought it would be a good idea to set fire to the forest around Mount Mian to force Zitui to come out. This plan backfired and instead Zitui and his mother were killed. So in order to honor his servant, the Duke ordered that only cold food could be eaten on the day of his death.
Today, in Dali, you’ll find people traveling from all over to come home and go up the Cang mountains where most of the tombs are located. In addition to providing general tomb upkeep and maintenance, families will bring offerings to burn for their ancestors, as well as food for themselves. During a recent hike on the mountain, I passed by many families having picnics and what seemed like family reunions. The atmosphere was one more of celebration than of mourning. This is because aside from honoring the dead, Qingming Jie is also a celebration of life and family.
The key activities that make up Qing Ming Festival include:
- Tomb Sweeping: this includes burning incense and joss paper (to represent money), planting flowers (you can also use fake flowers–they never die!), general tomb upkeep, and prayers.
- Kite Flying: Kites are flown from day to night; some people cut their kites which they believe will bring good luck and prevent disease.
- Spring Outing: People will go out to enjoy the spring weather and beautiful nature that comes with the arrival of spring.
Date: 15th day after Spring Equinox. For those not using the lunar calendar, it usually falls around April 5-6.
National Holidays: Labour Day & Youth Day
May 1: Labour Day
Labour Day is one of the holidays established and “celebrated” in order to encourage tourism and spending. People will generally have three days off to travel.
May 4: Youth Day
Established by the United Nations, this holiday honors people specifically within the ages of 14-28. In China this holiday is also meant to honor the beginning of the May Fourth Movement. The May Fourth Movement of 1919 consisted of student protests in response to the Chinese government’s weak response to their treatment in the Treaty of Versailles. In a more general sense, it marked a greater trend towards Chinese nationalism, rejection of tradition, greater political activity, and a populist majority.
A Special Offer From Us:
In honor of these upcoming holidays, specifically Labour Day we would like to offer a 30% discount off of all rooms booked at our new site, The Linden Commons. This offer is only valid for reservations within the following date range: 4/28/18 – 5/10/18.
Dragon ladies photo: https://yunev.co/2016/04/28/san-yue-jie/