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Main Customs and Festivals in Guangzhou

A well-known city in Guangdong province, Guangzhou boasts a rich variety of folk customs. On the basis of celebrating traditional festivals, it has developed 8 events with strong local flavors. All these add color to the beautiful "Flower City" of Guangzhou.
There exist a number of folk customs at the end of the year as eating Reunification Meal, boiling rice dumplings, lantern show, flower fair strolling, bonus bag presenting, peach flower planting, etc. Others include the grave cleaning, dragon boat competition, moon cake enjoyment during the Mid-Autumn Festival, mountain climbing on the double Ninth Day etc. In daily life, people will find the following customs: morning tea, midnight refreshments, sugar water drink, Liangcha, over boiled soup, and the chafing dish etc. For amusement, people can enjoy lion dance, turtle dance, flower festival, chrysanthemum festival, flowery boat and plain lantern decoration.
1. The Chinese New Year-Spring Festival

The Spring Festival is the most important festival for the Chinese people and is when all family members get together, just like Christmas in the West. All people living away from home go back, becoming the busiest time for transportation systems of about half a month from the Spring Festival. Airports, railway stations and long-distance bus stations are crowded with home returnees.

The 1st day of the 1st lunar month is the time when the Spring Festival begins, which is usually one month later than the Gregorian calendar. So, the festival dates generally coincide with late January or early February.

Chinese New Year in Guangzhou is primarily the time to enjoy quality family time, especially with members of the family who come back to their homes for the occasion. However, it doesn't mean that foreign tourists and business persons who are in the city will have nothing to look forward to.

In case you are a food connoisseur, don't forget to visit the Shang Xia Jiu Pedestrian Street the week before the festival. It is at this time that the shops on one of the busiest shopping areas in Guangzhou are full of various delicacies to help customers purchase and stock their favorite foods. So, be it the oil-fried dumplings, glutinous rice cakes, taro chips, Shanghai sweet dumplings, ube floss, peanut cakes, cashew nuts, or stir-fried pancakes, you can have them all and more to satiate your taste buds. You may even visit the restaurants on the Shang Xia Jiu Food Street to taste delicious and traditional local food like boiled chicken with sauce, different varieties of seafood etc.

2. The Dragon Boat Day

The Dragon Boat Day is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month each year. In Guangzhou, the Dragon Boat tournaments are held on the Zhujiang River accompanied by cheering spectators, the beat of drums and gongs. The atmosphere is very jubilant as boats race with each other to reach the finish line as soon as possible.

3. The Mid-Autumn Celebration

The Mid-autumn celebration is one of the most popular festivals in Guangzhou. It is celebrated on the eighth lunar month on the fifteenth day, which coincides with the autumnal equinox. The Mid-Autumn is a celebration of the harvest season. It marks the prosperity and abundance of food, fruits, grains and vegetables. The moon is worshipped during this festival so that winter may come as soon as possible. People cook a lot of special foods such as moon cakes, taro root, snails and rice cakes on this day.

4. The Tomb Sweeping Holiday

This is a national Chinese memorial day, which commemorates the dead. It lasts for three days and involves a number of rituals such as sweeping and cleaning the tombstones of the departed as well as kite flying. Family members decorate the tombstone, offer food, fruit and wine to the dead souls and burn incense to ward off evil spirits

5. Double Ninth Day

Climbing High on the Double Ninth Day is a traditional custom observed every year on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month. It was meant to be an auspicious activity. People are used to climbing high, cleaning tombs, and flying kites. Since 1970s, tomb cleaning and kite flying have gradually given way to climbing. Baiyun and Yuexiu mountains are the prime choice of the climbers who are as many as 200,000 every year. Some young people would even do the night climbing on the eve of the day in order to enjoy the sunrise in the next morning

6. The Chinese Valentine's Day

The Chinese Valentine's Day is a matchmaking ritual of sorts. Young girls of marriageable age display their skill in the domestic arts and then pray for a good and loving husband. Prayers are held at the temple of the Matchmaker in order to facilitate a good marriage.

7. The Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice Holiday or Dongzhi is one of the very important Chinese festivals. It is a time for families to get together and feast on specially cooked food, which mark their reunion. This holiday is a way of relaxation after working hard for a good harvest.

8. Lantern Festival

As everywhere in China, Lantern Festival in Guangzhou takes place on 5th of the first lunar month.

As early as in the southern Han period, lanterns were lit all night in the Changshou Temple to usher in a coming harvest year and compete against the moonlight. Now on the festival all public places are decorated with lanterns and some are even graced with exhibitions of flowers, fruit pots, fine arts and photography in addition to lantern riddles. Citizens hang lanterns at home while children play lanterns on streets in celebration of the festival. There are varieties of lanterns, mainly the palace lantern, silk lantern, gauze lantern, flower and fruit lantern. dragon lantern and lantern tower, the last two of which are the large ones with a few dozens of lanterns joined together to make a lantern parade.
Therefore, the Guangzhou Lantern Festival serves as an exhibition of folk lantern art. Held in Yuexiu Park, the Mrtyrs' Mausoleum and the Guangzhou Cultural Park, the local exhibition is often joined by lanterns from those famous lantern production places as Zigong in Sichuan Province and Datong on Shanxi province.

9. Lion Dance

Lion dance is a folk recreational and sporting activity, which imitates the movement of lions. On festival days, there usually is a parade of lion dances with the dancers holding the lion head up and down either to show the lion's roar or its native charm to the strong rhythm of gongs and drums.

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