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Festivals and Custom

   Spring Festival: The Spring Festival is the grandest Chinese traditional festival all over one year. In the past, the citizens were used to start the preparation of Spring Festival goods after the Winter Solstice, such as making salted meat and salted chicken, preparing New Year rice cakes, doing crispy rice candies, grinding sugar loaves, and so on. “Every day is the Spring Festival after December 24th by lunar calendar” (Nanchangs dialect), on January 1st by lunar calendar, the younger visit and offer New Years greetings to the elder in order, and then the elder lead the younger to offer New Years greetings to the surrounding neighbors. There is an old saying in Nanchang: “lunar January 1st for sons, lunar January 2nd for daughters, lunar January 3rd and 4th for old sons-in-law” (Nanchang’s dialect) (note: this sentence means the sons offer New Years greetings to their parents on lunar January 1st, the daughters and sons-in-law offer New Years greetings to the mothers-in-law on lunar January 2nd, and because the daughters come back home, the wifes family gives sugar cakes to neighbors , not too more but three or four, just showing a good neighbor relationship. lunar January 3rd and 4th, the people are used not to visit and offer New Years greetings to other families, Nanchang people often offer New Years greetings to the dead ones, and only the middle-aged sons-in-law can visit and offer New Years greetings to their father-in-law and mother-in-law.). Some people also may specifically offer New Years greetings to their dead parents and relatives.

   When visiting and offering New Years greetings to the relatives, Nanchang people often take along the cakes and fruit as a gift to show their respect. While the visited relatives will cook noodles, one bowl for each person, 3 eggs in each bowl, and also will arrange the mixed dish of salted meat, sausages and so on, pour wine, and fill cooked rice to treat the guests, and then give candies as a gift back to the guests when they leave. This is well-known as “Tea Change”, having a meaning of “wealth change”, that is, wishing everyone will make a fortune. The cakes are packaged with the thick flock paper plus a layer of white paper, then pasted a piece of red paper on the surface, only one object is sent out and sent back, just focusing on the pattern rather than the content.   

The lunar January 15th was called as “Zhongyuan Festival” in the history, but is known as “Lantern Festival” in Nanchang. Nanchang people’s celebration to the Lantern Festival is called as Festive Lantern Festival, ether the urban residents or rural residents must eat the sweet dumplings, symbolizing the reunion and happiness of the whole family. After eating the sweet dumplings, the festive lantern activity starts. There are all kinds of dragon lanterns for celebration of Lantern Festival in the suburban countryside of Nanchang, such as dragon lanterns, bench lanterns, Guangong lanterns, lotus seed-picking lanterns, and so on. The longest bench lantern is composed by more than 1,000 benches and controlled by more than 1,000 persons. When dancing, the bench lantern is regular and uniform, very grand. After liberation, the folk festive activity of Lantern Festival is added with various folk songs and dances. In the night of Lantern Festival, lanterns are hung at every house. The colorful lamps in every village are bright all night, the firecracker and frolic sounds are discontinuing thorough the night. Just as the folk saying “fire at the night of lunar December 30th, lanterns at the night of lunar January 15th of the next year”, the Spring Festival is being celebrated up to lunar January 16th, and then under a cheerful atmosphere, the people start to remove away the altar set on lunar December 24th, pack up the lanterns and lamps, and hold the activity of sending the gods home. After completion of sending the gods home, the activity of New Spring draws to a conclusion.

Tomb Sweeping Festival: At Tomb Sweeping Festival, there are still family members of residents in Nanchang to hold a memorial ceremony at the ancients tombs and trim the tombs, and this is commonly called as “Tomb Sweeping”. The time of “Tomb Sweeping” is also the very time for Spring outing. In the past, many people went to the suburban Taoyuan 3rd Village of Nanchang City in groups to watch the peach blossom, while some people made an outing to Qingyunpu, West Mountain Longevity Palace, and Mengshan Mountain, enjoying a full sight of mountain scenery in Spring. 

Dragon Boat Festival: The Dragon Boat Festival is one of three most important festivals for Nanchang people in one year. It is the time for the unmarried people with the determined marrying to give gifts mutually, for the married sons-in-law to give gifts to the mother-in-law, and for the nephews to give gifts to the uncle. After Dragon Boat Festival, the climate of Nanchang gradually became hot, thus the unmarried daughters might give a fan to their mother as a gift to present their tribute. At Dragon Boat Festival, Nanchang people eat Zongzi (pyramid-shaped dumpling), insert moxa sticks, eat red eggs, boiled eggs with tea and soy sauce, and steamed buns, drink realgar wine, and compete dragon boats. The activity of playing dragon boats is prepared starting from April, “playing dragon boats on lunar May 1st, taking a rest on lunar May 2nd, and then playing continuously on lunar May 3rd and 4th up to the come of Dragon Boat Festival”. The dragon boat contest in Shibi Township, Wanbu and Longpan towns of Anyi County is very famous since Ming Dynasty. The Zhuzhi Poem by the ancient is its good evidence: “May pomegranate blossoms red in May, the enjoyable feeling is respectfully tasting realgar wine with a horn like the ancients, child ornaments needs to embrodier carefully one thread by one thread, numerous dragon boats are trapped in the mire of Wanbu.”

Mid-autumn Festival: In the past, Nanchang people gave moon cakes and candies mutually as a present, and the family members and relatives all happily gathered together to celebrate this festival. Each family would use a piece of complete lotus root to prick into a dragon shape, and then place on the desk together with watermelon, pomelo, and moon cakes, and finally burn incenses to offer the sky and earth. At noon, each family would arrange a feast, leaving a blank seat if any member was going out but not came back, symbolizing the happy gathering of the whole family and the reunion of the elder and the younger. When the round moon rises, the whole family reunited under the moon, lighting firecrackers and enjoying moonlight, eating moon cakes, pomelo, melons and fruits, and other round food, implying “reunion”. “Nanchang County Records” in Tongzhi times of Qing Dynasty recorded: “In the night of mid-autumn, the women in the city often quietly count the pillars of Gaoqiao Bridge while praying for bearing a body, so do the rural women”. The women in the city are used to go to Gaotuqiao Bridge (now “Gaoqiao Bridge”) in groups to quietly count its pillars, some women caress the stone pillars of Gaoqiao Bridge with their hands, even putting their hands that have caressed the stone pillars into their bosoms, and it is said such doing so could enable them to bear a body. Some people of Nanchang County pull out a green plant in the farmland and secretly put it on the bed of the un-pregnant women, suggesting bearing a body in the next year. This is also known as “Touching Green” 

Winter Solstice Festival: “Nanchang County Records” in Tongzhi times of Qing Dynasty recorded: “At Winter Solstice, worship ancestors in the shrine. Some people paste wax on tree branches and sell them as winter sweets, many people competitively buy them, making their price exceed their actual value”. At around lunar November 8th, it is a seasonal solar term and also a traditional ancestors-honoring day, well-known as “Winter Solstice is as important as Spring Festival”. Nanchang regional people commemorate the ancestors, sweep the tombs, and trim the tomes by the change of Winter Solstice Festival. In the past, on this day, each village held Winter Solstice Congregation to add new soils to the ancestors’ tombs. All the men aged more than 16 had to enter the family shrine to participate in the ceremony in honor of ancestors, and most of the births, deaths, and marriages in the villages were registered on this day (called as “Registering into the family tree”). Winter Solstice is also the good time for the folk to “salt”, “preserve”, and “mold”. A old saying said “even the bone is good when salting meat at Winter Solstice”, thus the activities of killing pigs, salting meat, molding bean curd, and brewing wine with glutinous rice often begin after Winter Solstice Festival, so as to make a good material preparation for Spring Festival.