China is a country with a long history of about 5,000 years. In its ever-forward history course there have developed a good number of traditional festivals, which are of rich varieties and long standing. The culture of festivals rooted deeply in the people, and it thus shows its enormous vitality. In spite of the change of times, it has gradually become part of the heritages of the colorful Chinese culture.
Boasting rich cultural meaning and a long history, traditional Chinese festivals compose an important and brilliant part of Chinese culture.
Most traditional festivals took shape during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), the first unified and power-centralized dynasty of China. By the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), China had experienced a great development period and major traditional festivals were fixed. In the most prosperous Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), traditional festivals liberated themselves from primitive sacrifice, taboo and mystery and became more entertaining. From then on, festive occasions turned more brisk and exciting and more and more folk customs were developed. Some festivals and customs we still follow today, but others disappeared into the mists of time.
The formation of traditional festivals is a long process of historical and cultural accumulation in a nation or a state. Festival customs passed down to today still show signs of ethnic group struggles. Festival activities always reflect primitive sacrifice, superstitious taboo and earthly life, people's spirit and religious influence. Sometimes historical figures become the focus of a festival, showing people's commemoration for them and endowing some historical sense to it.
Moreover, traditional Chinese festivals were often connected with ancient astronomy, calendars and mathematics. Jieqi, or the 24 seasonal division points, is a key factor in forming traditional festivals. According to the traditional Chinese calendar, a year is divided into 24 points, which can accurately show seasonal changes and acts as a basic guidance system for agricultural production. The 24 seasonal division points came into being in the Warring States Period (475 BC-221 BC).
As China is a vast land and has many ethnic groups, different ethnic groups have different festivals in different places. Even on the same festival, they follow different customs. In fact, these traditional festivals have absorbed nourishment from different regions and various ethnic cultures and are a precious cultural heritage for the whole Chinese nation and its guests.
The traditional Chinese festivals not only are an important part of the cultural life of the Chinese people, but they also play a special role in the commercial trade and cultural communication. In these festivals, farmers exchange different products; goods; scholars share their works with each other; and the government also hold some grand activities to establish or reaffirm the moral principles as a kind of conduction.