Traditional Festivals

Five major Chinese festivals offer occasions for family union and feasting. Foremost is the Lunar New Year, celebrated in the first few days of the first moon of the year. Friends and relatives visit each other and exchange gifts while children and unmarried adults receive lai see, or 'lucky' money.

    The Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth moon in memory of an ancient Chinese poet, Qu Yuan, who committed suicide by jumping into a river rather than compromise his honour. The festival has developed into an annual event characterised by dragon boat races and eating of rice dumplings wrapped in lotus leaves.

    For the Mid-Autumn Festival on the 15th day of the eighth moon, adults and children gather under the full moon with colourful lanterns, which nowadays reflect a variety of objects rather than just the animals of the lunar calendar, and eat mooncakes a traditional festival delicacy.

    The Ching Ming Festival in spring and the Chung Yeung Festival on the ninth day of the ninth moon are occasions for visiting ancestral graves. Many people mark Chung Yeung by climbing hills in remembrance of an ancient Chinese family that escaped plague and death by fleeing to a mountain-top.