Traditional Chinese Clothing

Qi Xi, the Chinese Valentine’s Day that is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, is also known as Qi Qiao, the festival of skills. On this day, women pray and perform rituals in the hope that they could improve their skills in clothes making. As I already have written about the origins of Qi Xi, this year’s piece will be an introduction to those wonderful Chinese traditional garments that required such skills from tailors and weavers in their making.


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Zhong Qiu Jie: Mid-Autumn Festival

Tomorrow is 中秋节(“Zhong Qiu Jie”), Mid-Autumn Festival. I did a tweet stream a few years ago that proved immensely popular. Since then, I have been meaning to write about the traditional rituals and beliefs of Zhong Qiu for quite some time. Mid-Autumn Festival takes place on the 15th of the eighth lunar month, and is the second most important Chinese traditional festival after Spring Festival. Like many wonderful parts of Chinese culture, it emerged when the system of festivities came into shape during the Han Dynasty, and became a popular tradition during the Tang Dynasty. Whilst it shares similarities with Western the harvest festival, it’s also a time when families re-unite, offerings and thanks are given to a range of gods, all in all a time when people gather to enjoy their union with Nature and with each other.


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Hei Bai Wu Chang

During this Ghost Month, I want to look at a pair of gods who have continued to capture the Chinese imagination through the centuries, 黑无常 (“Hei Wu Chang”) and 白无常 (“Bai Wu Chang”). Wu Chang is the Daoist term for god of the underworld.


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Burying the Dead in 21st Century China

The Chinese traditionally divide the year into twenty-four seasons, each being two weeks long. The seventh season following the start of the Lunar Year, is Qing Ming, the first of China’s three annual festivals of the dead. The season starts with a historically rooted “Cold Food Day”, and the pagan aspects of the ancient festival of welcoming the Spring. This is usually enacted in the form of outdoor activities like picnics and sports, and of course, the honouring of ancestors with the first cleaning of their tombs since winter. (http://snowpavilion.co.uk/traditions-of-qing-ming/).


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8 Festive Dishes and 8 Festive Traditions of Chinese New Year

If you’re reading this you probably already know about Chinese New Year, so I won’t spoil the festive occasion with too much scholarly detail. 8 is the lucky number in China so here are 8 festive foods and 8 festive traditions for Spring Festival. Since CNY is as big as Christmas and China is vast, every region has its variation of customs. Having a northern mother and southern father, mine will be a mixture of northern and southern broadly speaking, leaning towards southern because that’s where I spent my childhood.


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Chinese Lanterns at Chiswick House

There are many elements of Chinese culture that I would love to share with my readers. Some, I do my best to convey in my writing, but others you really have to see for yourself.

When I saw the poster for the “Magical Lantern Festival”, I was thrilled that these Chinese silk illuminations are coming to the UK. A traditional Chinese craft relatively lesser known in the West, I was happy that my readers may have a chance to experience these themselves, especially in the gorgeous grounds of Chiswick House.


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Christmas in China

When I was living in China twenty years ago, the Chinese didn’t do Christmas. With our collection of household gods, national celebrations and local traditions, there really wasn’t room for another jolly old man in red. Now, it’s a different matter, and “Sheng Dan Lao Ren” appears all through December, across China.


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How Chang’E & Yutu Reminds Us that China Needs More Space!

Today is China’s Mid-Autumn Festival. Apart from celebrating plentiful harvest, wishing the longevity of family members and multiple offspring, Chinese people turn their thought towards the moon, which appears the brightest on this 15th day of the 8th lunar month, and its marked surface, which has spawned many ancient legends of Chang’E and Yutu, her Jade Rabbit.


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Summoning of the Soul of Qu Yuan

The coming weekend (20th of June) will bring 2015’s Duan Wu Festival, the ultimate Chinese celebration of summer that is more commonly known around the world as Dragon Boat Festival (http://snowpavilion.co.uk/duan-wu-dragon-boat-festival/). However, the origins of the festival, and the poet whose life it celebrates, are rarely focused on.


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Nanhaishen – God of the South China Sea

This coming week sees the celebration of the birth of Chinese 海神(“Hai Shen”) or god of the sea, which falls on the 11th to 13th day of the second lunar month. So I am writing about the wonderful Nanhaishen (literally “God of the South China Sea”) Temple on the outskirts of Guangzhou, a hidden treasure I discovered on my last visit back. In fact, Chinese sea gods still inspire Western culture today.


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