Chinese New Year may be China's biggest excuse for a party, but it's not the only one. There are many Chinese holidays throughout the year, and most have their own special celebration food. Because Chinese holidays are based on the lunar calendar, the date on the Gregorian calendar changes from one year to the next. Here is a Chinese holiday calendar with dates and information about the major festivals and significant days in 2010, the Year of the Tiger.
For millions of Asians, Chinese New Year is more than one special day. Families spend weeks preparing for the big event: cleaning house, painting doors and windows red, and cooking special foods. Celebrations for Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival, last a full fifteen days. Learn more about Chinese New Year, the symbolic significance of festive foods, and try New Years recipes. (Date of Chinese New Year Day: first day of the first Chinese lunar month).
Top Picks: Chinese New Year
Missed celebrating Valentine's Day with your sweetheart? You get a second chance with The Lantern Festival. Falling on the last day of the Chinese New Year season, the Lantern Festival is traditionally a day for lovers. Learn more and try a recipe for Yuanxiao, the sticky rice dumplings that are served at Lantern festival celebrations. (Date: fifteenth day of the first Chinese lunar month).
Top Picks: Lantern Festival
3. Ching Ming - the Tomb Sweeping Festival - April 5, 2010A gravesite picnic? Why not? The Tomb Sweeping festival is a time for families to honor the memory of their ancestors. Along with tomb sweeping and performing standard gravesite maintenance such as removing debris from the gravestones and replacing dead flowers, family members offer gifts of food, fruit and wine to the departed. After a formal ceremony, the food is shared among family members. Another tradition is to burn incense to ward off any evil spirits that may be lurking.
Every year, Hong Kong's tiny island of Cheung Chau holds a celebration honoring Pak Tai, the God of the Sea. The highlight of the three day festival involves a spectacular midnight race up steel towers that have been loaded with Chinese buns. In 2010, celebrations will be held between May 18 - 22nd. The main action takes place on Friday, May 21st, with a parade in the afternoon and the bun scrambling competition at midnight.
Top Picks: Cheung Chau Bun Festival
There are few sites more spectacular than a fleet of painted dragon boats racing toward the finish line, with a drummer in each boat hammering out the rhythm for the rowers to follow. The Dragon Boat Festival is China's oldest festival. Find out more about this exciting event and learn how to make Zongzi, the sticky rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves that are an essential feature of any Dragon Boat Festival celebration. (Date: fifth day of the fifth Chinese lunar month).
)Top Picks: Dragon Boat Festival
They may not celebrate with chocolate and flowers, but the Chinese have a day devoted to love. Learn more about the legend of star-crossed lovers Niu Lang and Zhi Nu, and try several romantic menus to celebrate the holiday. (Date: seventh day of the seventh Chinese lunar month).
Top Picks: Chinese Valentine's Day
Even ghosts deserve time off. According to Chinese legend, every year ghosts are allowed to leave hell and return to earth for one month. Learn more in this feature by Barbara O'Brien, About.com's Guide to Buddhism. (Date: fifteen day of the seventh Chinese lunar month).
Top Picks: Hungry Ghost Festivals
When the autumn harvest moon is at its fullest, the Chinese celebrate by lighting colorful lanterns and enjoying delicious mooncakes. Learn more about the legends behind the festival and try some mooncake recipes. (Date: fifteenth day of the eighth Chinese lunar month).
Top Picks: Mid-Autumn Mooncake Festival
9. Double Ninth Day (Chung Yeung), Elder's Day - October 16, 2010The Chinese believe nine is a lucky number, which makes Double Ninth Day particularly auspicious. In addition, because the words "nine" and "long" are homophones (words that sound alike but have different meanings), the government has designated this as a day for youth to honor their ancestors and the elderly. Traditions associated with Double Ninth Day include visiting gravesites, hill or mountain climbing, and drinking chrysanthemum wine. (Date: ninth day of the ninth Chinese lunar month).