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
This year’s Ghost Month started yesterday. Are you now thinking of Dias de Muertos? You’ve got the right idea. This is the Chinese version. There are three traditional festivals of the dead on the Chinese annual calendar, known in Taoist terms, as 上元Shang Yuan, z中元Zhong Yuan and 下元 Xia Yuan. Shang Yuan, or Qing Ming, the Chinese Remembrance Day, takes place in the 4th lunar month (see my other article). Zhong Yuan, popularly known as 鬼节 (“Gui Jie”) or 鬼月 (“Gui Yue”) Ghost Month, takes place on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, culture, customs, festival, Ghost Month, rituals, tradition, Zhong Yuan
Today is the 7th day of the 7th month in the Chinese lunar calendar, commonly known as 7 7, the Chinese Valentine’s, and women’s festival. The origins of 7 7 date all the way back to the 3rd century BC, and to the Nanyang civilisation in Henan, the cradle of ancient Chinese culture. Amongst many great achievements, the Han Dynasty saw the advancement of native Chinese astronomy, the silk industry from the breeding silk worms, growing mulberry leaves to weaving, and Nanyang was known for its fine stock of cattle. Like many ancient civilisations, the Chinese held the stars in great awe, they divided the sky into 28 constellations, anthropomorphising many in the naming process. So from the development of ancient Chinese industry, agriculture and astronomy, came this beautiful legend that inspired the festival.
Posted in Blog and tagged 7 7, china, Chinese, culture, festival, Qi Qiao, Valentine's
Summer is here again, with Dragon Boat Festival to mark it. This year, instead of delivering my culture tweets, I’ve put together an article, so that people interested to look further can read more about it. After all, Dragon Boat Festival is China’s major traditional summer festival, and probably the second most well-known celebratory event after Spring Festival.
Posted in Blog and tagged calamus, china, Chinese, culture, dragon boat, Dragon Boat Festival, Duan Wu, festival, herbs, mugwort, summer, tradition
This year’s Chinese Visual Festival is collaborating with the Chinese Independent Film Festival to bring to the UK their 10th anniversary animation selection, and I went to see it at King’s College in the middle of May.
Posted in Blog and tagged animation, china, CIFF, cinema, culture, CVF, festival, film, history of animation, indie, King's College, london
残废科幻 (“Can Fei Ke Huan”), quite crudely translated as “Deformity Sci-Fi”, is a peculiar, heady mix, shot in Shanxi, the hometown of up and coming Chinese indie director Jianqiang Xue (a.k.a. Kokoka). It follows the lives and misdemeanors of a gang of lowly thugs as they go about their daily business, arguing, fighting, drinking, collecting money and committing crimes against the backdrop of an imminent alien visitation.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, cinema, culture, CVF, Deformity Sci-Fi, festival, film, indie, movie, Sci-Fi, Shanxi
As we are enjoying our first bank holiday weekend of the year in England, eating hot cross buns, and looking forward to a four-day week ahead of us, I have been thinking about national holidays in China. Even If you are based in the West, you may increasingly have to deal with the Chinese calendar, as companies you work with suddenly shut up shop for “Tomb Sweeping” or “Double Nine”.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, Chinese New Year, culture, Dragon Boat Festival, festival, Golden Week, May Day, Mid Autumn, Moon Festival, National Day, national holiday, public holiday, Qing Ming, Spring Festival, tomb sweeping
This weekend is International Women’s Day (8th of March). In China, it is celebrated with speeches on TV, stage shows and gifts for women from their junior loved ones. I remember presenting my mother and aunties with flowers and pictures I drew as a child. A Polish colleague once told me that in Polish tradition, females of all ages are eulogised on International Women’s Day. So both her and her daughter of five years of age, would get flowers on this day. Over here though, it is celebrated by white middle-aged men asking “when is it International Men’s Day?” all over Facebook and Twitter. So I’ve written about some strong female warriors throughout Chinese history, to remind everyone to think about how recent women’s emancipation still is, even in Britain, the land of the Suffragettes; and to also tell you that even if a civilization as patriarchal as China, there are strong female role models to be found, throughout history.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, culture, feminism, festival, history, International Women's Day, Suffragette, warrior