There are few festivals in China like Qingming, also called Tomb-sweeping Day, for which people have so many mixed feelings. It’s a festival full of sorrow and nostalgia – people mourn for the dead. But at the same time, it’s a lithesome time with spring brightness – everything is growing, full of the laughter of spring outing. The combination of sadness and happiness makes this traditional Chinese festival very unique. I feel a little bit regretful that I can’t go back to China to revisit the tombs of my ancestors in Qingming Festival. And I found that this kind of nostalgia grew more intense as I left my country.
Qingming is also one of the Chinese Twenty-four Solar Terms. There are many paintings and classic Chinese poems about Qingming. The most famous one is the Qingming scroll created by Zhang Zeduan. This ancient Chinese painting portrays the prosperous scene of Kaifeng city, the capital of the Song Dynasty during a Qingming festival.
This is a painting about another famous poem written by Du Mu.
If you’re looking for a unique outdoor event to participate in and kick off the springtime in Austin, the annual Zilker Park Kite Festival is one of the must-haves. I’ve heard about the kite festival and been dreaming of it since the UT orientation for international students last August.
The kite festival was on March 6th this year, my boyfriend and I went flying the kite and had a great time there. There were children of all ages, adults and dogs all over Zilker Park, and all kinds of kites. It attracted a huge crowd because there’s no entry fee and there’s a lot of fun to have: kite flying demonstrations, friendly contest for kite flyers, food vendors (support local nonprofits), face painters, moonwalks and music, the on-site booth for making kites, etc.
This weekend is the traditional Lantern Festival, which indicates the end of Spring Festival. Believe it or not, it has a history traced back about 2000 years in the beginning of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220)! Here come the Chinese history and culture lesson 🙂 Emperor Hanmingdi was an advocate of Buddhism and he heard that some monks lit lanterns in the temples to show respect to Buddha on the 15th day of the first lunar month. Therefore, he advocated that all the temples, households, and royal palaces light lanterns on that evening. Gradually, this Buddhist custom became an important festival among Chinese people.
Lantern Festival is called 元宵节 Yuánxiāojié /ywen-sshyaoww jyeah/ and it also has an alternative name as 上元节 Shàngyuánjié shung-ywen-jyeah/. Chinese people celebrate it by enjoying lanterns, guessing lantern riddles, eating tangyuan or yuan xiao (glutinous rice balls), lion and dragon dances, etc.
I remember when I was young, my grandparents always said that you couldn’t perfectly end the Spring Festival without eating Tangyuan in Lantern Festival. Therefore, I decide to adventure to make small rice balls on my own according to the recipe. I prefer the sweet flavor, so I want to try with purple sweet potato filling. Here are the steps:
Last weekend was traditional Chinese Spring Festival, the biggest festival in China to celebrate the lunar New Year. It’s a festival about families getting together to have the annual reunion dinner and usher the coming of new year. But it’s been the first year that I didn’t spend the Spring Festival with my family back in China since I’m studying my master’s degree in the States now.