Chinese Festivals: A Brief Overview

A festival is a temporary event usually celebrated by a group and centered around a particular theme or characteristic feature of the community and its religion or cultural practices. It may also be marked as a national or local holiday, festive occasion, or festive period. Festivals are usually characterized by festive feasts, music, dance, sporting events, pottery and jewelry, arts and crafts, food, games, and other activities. They can also be commemorative events.

The traditional scope of most festivals is linked to a religious tradition. , however, have been adapted into secular celebration to mark important events in the lives of the people. Christian festivals include Christmas and Easter, Islamic festivals include the fasting of Ramadan, Hindu and Buddhist festivals mark certain periods throughout the year, and Native American festivals mark the renewal of life. The New Year’s Festival, on the other hand, is a special event observed after the beginning of the New Year.

In Singapore, there are four major religions which form the basis for the majority of the festivals. Chinese festivals are characterized by New Year, spring festival, Lunar Festival and Arts and Crafts Festival. They are, however, not exclusive to the Chinese culture alone. There are, in fact, five Chinese festivals that are celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervor around the world. These festivals add to the festive spirit and provide inspiration to artists and crafters who make fine handicrafts. These festivals bring the two communities together.

Asian festivals may be divided further according to their geographic location. They include the Chinese New Year, Spring Festival, Lunar Festival, Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival, and the Autumn Festival. Each of these festivals is celebrated with different duration is determined by the lunar cycle. For instance, Chinese New Year lasts for over three weeks while the next is the mid-autumn festival, which is usually around the time of the Chinese New Year. Chinese festivals may last for several days or a few weeks, but all of them are equally important.

While all these festivals are significant in their own right, the biggest of them is the Festival of Light. It has the potential of changing lives in Singapore as millions of Chinese and tourists from across the world come here to celebrate something that has become synonymous with the country. The Festival of Light has been celebrated since the times of the Ming Dynasty when the ruler of Singapore bestowed twelve lamps to his relatives and friends as blessings for a prosperous new year. These lanterns are known as the Baah Magi and are kept burning till the coming of the next year.

Every year, on the first day of the New Year, people begin to buy presents and set apart the Baah Magi lanterns that they intend to light on that particular day. Lights are also placed at various places around the country to celebrate something that binds the people of the country together. Some of the popular celebrations include the Chinese New Year celebrations, which can last for a number of days or a week, while other festivals may be celebrated over a longer period of time. Regardless of the time period involved, however, all of them are as much a part of the Chinese culture as any other religious festival.g