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Cultural Heritage / Trip Ideas

Chinese traditional festivals represented at the Capital Museum

By Han Xiao

July 7

Visitors to the Capital Museum can see examples of traditional Chinese festivals.

Visitors to the Capital Museum can see examples of traditional Chinese festivals.

The Capital Museum is located on West Changan Avenue in Beijing. This fantastic museum finished construction in 2006; the design of the museum highlights ‘the link of past, present and future’. Inside the museum, its most popular exhibition is a collection focusing on traditional Chinese festival culture.

Traditional Chinese festivals are one of the most important parts of Chinese culture. There are hundreds of different festivals in China, such as Spring Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival. One of the most famous Chinese festivals is the Chinese New Year. Chinese celebrate the Chinese New Year in diverse ways.

1. New Year’s Celebration

The firecrackers are used to celebrate Chinese New Year. [Photo: Han Xiao for China.org.cn]
The firecrackers are used to celebrate Chinese New Year. [Photo: Han Xiao for China.org.cn]
Burning firecrackers (爆竹) is the one of the most popular and exciting activities during the Spring Festival. In Chinese mythology, there was a monster that would always eat animal herds and destroy houses during New Year’s Eve. One wise man developed firecrackers, and their loud noise was able to keep the monster away from children and villages. Nowadays, fireworks are designed to be much safer than before, and there are still millions of people who use them to celebrate Spring Festival.

People usually hang out traditional Chinese New Year’s Paintings in their front door to welcome gods. [Photo: Han Xiao for China.org.cn]
People usually hang out traditional Chinese New Year’s Paintings in their front door to welcome gods. [Photo: Han Xiao for China.org.cn]
Also, Chinese New Year’s Paintings (年画) are very important to Chinese culture. In this photo, two gods from Chinese mythology representing wealth and safety are shown.

2. Children Birthday’s Ceremony

Draw Lots things for the one-year-old baby [Photo: Han Xiao for China.org.cn]
Draw Lots things for the one-year-old baby [Photo: Han Xiao for China.org.cn]
In Chinese history, there is a very interesting tradition called Draw Lots (抓周). When a child going to turn one year old, his parents will bring a variety of things to him and let him choose one. Each item represents a specific career or personality. Parents believe that what their child chooses will influence what kind of job he will have and what kind of person he will be. For example, a small abacus stands for finance or mathematics, while scissors mean a future as a tailor.

3. Wedding Ceremony

Wedding Sedan was used to pick up Fiancée and take her to the wedding ceremony. [Photo: Han Xiao for China.org.cn]
Wedding Sedan was used to pick up Fiancée and take her to the wedding ceremony. [Photo: Han Xiao for China.org.cn]
Wedding ceremonies are one of the most important events in Chinese culture. Women’s parents take wedding celebrations very seriously. For example, according to Chinese tradition, the groom’s family has to use a red sedan to take the woman from her home to the wedding ceremony. There should also be a huge band playing loud music during the journey to attract the attention of neighbors. Red represents happiness and joys. At the same time, the man’s family has to pay the woman’s family huge amounts of money to gain permission for the marriage.

Very beautiful and delicate wedding dress for woman [Photo: Han Xiao for China.org.cn]
Very beautiful and delicate wedding dress for woman [Photo: Han Xiao for China.org.cn]
Wedding dresses are also extremely important to the fiancée. Only top quality materials are used. This dress has a crane, which stands for longevity and elegance in Chinese culture.

Bridal Chamber for new couple [Photo: Han Xiao for China.org.cn]
Bridal Chamber for new couple [Photo: Han Xiao for China.org.cn]
After the wedding ceremony, the Chinese people have another tradition called teasing bridal chamber (闹洞房) in the evening. The bed in this photo is for new couples; it has mirrors and flowers as decorations, as well as a red curtain, which represents luck and happiness.

4. Birthday Ceremony

Ceremony Hall for old people’s birthday [Photo: Han Xiao for China.org.cn]
Ceremony Hall for old people’s birthday [Photo: Han Xiao for China.org.cn]
Older people’s birthdays are an important occasion in Chinese culture, especially for people over 80. There are several traditions for the celebration of these birthdays (祝寿). For example, the decoration of the hall must be very specific. In this photo, a work Chinese calligraphy representing longevity hangs in the middle of the wall. The peaches set out on the table are meant to help people live longer. Also, the layout of the decorations – including the vases and the flowers – has to be symmetric. On the floor, there is usually a red carpet to help younger generations to kneel down and show their respect.

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