This time last year, I launched my book “From Kuan Yin to Chairman Mao: An Essential Guide to Chinese Deities” in the UK. Vivian Ni, the wonderful manager of Guanghwa in London, my bookshop of choice for the launch, wrote a lovely article for the occasion of Qi Xi, which she published on WeChat. I liked it so much that this year, I have translated it into English to share with my English-language readers on the same occasion of Qi Xi. The article contains a brief interview with me, I hope you enjoy it.
Posted in Blog and tagged book, china, Chinese, culture, deities, festival, gods, interview, literature, Qi Qiao, Qi Xi, tradition, Valentine's
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.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, clothes, culture, festival, Qi Xi, Qi Xiao
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.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, culture, festival, harvest festival, mid-autumn festival, moon
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.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, culture, festival, Ghost Month, god, underworld, Wu Chang
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/).
Posted in Blog and tagged burial rite, cemetery, china, Chinese, culture, ecological, festival, festival of the dead, Qing Ming, tomb sweeping
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.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, Chinese New Year, culture, festival, food, Spring Festival, tradition
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.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, Chinese New Year, Chiswick Gardens, culture, festival, lanterns, silk illuminations, Spring Festival
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.
Posted in Blog and tagged aesthetic, china, Chinese, Chu, cosmology, culture, Duan Wu, festival, mythology, poetry, Qu Yuan, shamanism, The Great Summons, verse, Warring States
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.
Posted in Blog and tagged Anthony Horowitz, china, Chinese, culture, Daoism, deity, fang shui, festival, Guanyu, Ken Liu, Lin Mo, Mazu, necropolis, sea god, Taoism, temple, YA
Tiny sticky cakes with a salted egg yolk in the middle. Sounds tasty, no?
One baked lotus seed paste mooncake with one egg yolk weighs about 180 g, has 790 calories, and contains 45 g of fat, so they taste good, but aren’t so good for your figure, unless you want to end up looking like the autumn moon!
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, culture, festival, food, mid-autumn festival, moon cake, Moon Festival, tradition