by Elaine Dunn
A new year, a new series – on Chinese myths and folktales.
Myths are generally organic, they serve as a basis for social order and rules and customs, and therefore, they change and develop in tandem with the society in which they exist. The Chinese have never been clear in their separation of myth and reality. Sometimes, historical figures are transformed into gods and myths are recounted as history!
What’s the occasion? Dongzhi (冬至)
By Elaine Dunn
The longest night. The shortest day. The turning point. Call it what you will, Dongzhi (冬至 ) is the one day Chinese families all around the world still make a point of getting together for a family meal of meat dumplings (mainly in northern China) or tangyuans, glutinous rice balls. This year, Dongzhi falls on Dec. 21.
In Chinese culture, Dongzhi is the Winter (Solstice) Festival, a day that is almost as important as New Year Day.
By Elaine Dunn, staff writer
When is Mid-autumn Festival?
Man may have landed on the moon in July 1969; but according to Chinese legends, others may have landed and lived on the moon thousands of years already. And, we’re not talking little green men either! So who are these moon occupants of Chinese folklore? There are many stories associated with the Moon Festival, which is known officially as Mid-Autumn Festival. Depending on which story you choose, the resident on the moon may be a woman, a woodcutter or a rabbit.
By Elaine Dunn
When is Hungry Ghost Festival?
Once a year on the evening of Oct. 31, Halloween or All Hallows Eve, kids in the United States and other countries in the Western Hemisphere dress up as ghouls and goblins to go trick-or-treating in their neighborhoods, returning home with enough candy to last for months!
In China and many ethnic Chinese communities in Asia from Cambodia to India to Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam all share the belief that real ghosts and spirits, hungry ones at that (!), roam the streets during the entire seventh lunar month each year, which is designated as Ghost Month (鬼月). No benign little trick-or-treaters, these roaming spirits are on the lookout for victims to claim so they can be reborn! This is the scariest and most dangerous month of the Chinese lunar year.
According to tradition ...
By Elaine Dunn
When is it?
Duan Wu Festival, also known as Double Fifth or Dragon Boat Festival, as it is known in the western hemisphere, is possibly one of the most well-known Chinese festivals internationally. As one of its names implies, it falls on and is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in China, which happens to be June 12 in 2013.
Although long-celebrated all over Asia, the festival was not declared a public holiday in the People’s Republic of China (mainland) until 2008 – the first time since the 1940s.
There are many legends and myths connected with this festival.