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The coming Chinese Holiday is Chinese New Year.
The Zodiac of this year is "MONKEY"!

Most of the Chinese holidays are based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

The lunar festivals developed from the customs of China's past, and to the celebrants, these occasions are a time for recalling one's cultural origins and remembering the wisdom of early ages. And all the holidays seem to be connecting to some foods. Honestly, I don't know that is a sort of memory to those ancestors or just want to contribute those delicious foods to our own stomachs!

Chinese New Year
The coming New Year date is 2005 February 9th

(the year of the ROOSTER)
Fire Cracker The New Year for typical Chinese society. It's on Lunar Calendar's January 1st. Because there is a special rule for the leap months between the Lunar Calendar, the Chinese New Year won't be the same day every year. Usually, it will be around the end of January to the beginning of February, however the exact rule to count and locate when is Chinese New Year is a very complicated thing.

The most reliable legend of the Chinese New Year was that, "Year" was a very fierce monster who lived in the deep mountain. This Year monster came out once a year - at Chinese Year Eve. (And probably Year Monster's got bad math for counting the days, that's why Chinese New Years are not the same day for every year!) It went into villages to eat human beings. Everyone didn't want to be eaten, so they all hid in the house and all families gathered together. And at Eve, people fired firecrackers for making the noises to scare the Year Monster away. The next morning, Year has gone, everybody came and congratulated to each other by saying: " GONG SHIEH! GONG SHIEH!" That means congratulations, "Congratulate you've not been eaten by the Year Monster!" And that's why Chinese fire firecrackers at Chinese New Year!

During Chinese New Year, Chinese celebrate from Chinese New Year Eve to Lantern Festival when is on January 15th. Every family has a big feast on Chinese New Year Eve, and the "Spring Rolls" and "New Year Cake" are must-eat foods. Family members travelling outside for work, they all come home for this very important gathering day. Back to couple decades before, it was still an agricultural society, people wouldn't work and had no works to do around the New Year (because it's cold winter.) So people usually had 16 days of holiday until Lantern Festival.

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Lantern Festival   Chinese Lantern
The coming Lantern Festival date is 2005 February 23rd

January 15th (Lunar Calendar). The last day of Chinese New Year Holiday. People made beautiful lanterns to decorate their own houses and the temples. Usually, there were lots of Lantern Shows inside the temples everywhere. People went to temples praying for families' good health and a good year, then saw and enjoyed the Lantern Shows by the way.

Children also carried the lanterns and went on the streets to have a little venture trip with companies. (Sometimes, boys carries torches in stead of lanterns.)

In addition to watching and carrying the Lanterns, people also have "Yuan Hsiao" during the night. "Yuan Hsiao" actually is glutinous rice dumplings filled with bean paste, sesame paste, peanut powder.

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Dragon Boat Festival  Dragon Boat
The coming Dragon Boat Festival date is 2005 June 11th

It's on May 5th of Lunar Calendar.
There is a sad and desolate legend behind it, that was back to Warring States Period (475 - 221 BC) of ancient China. The story happened in the Kingdom of Chu, in what is now Hunan Province. A virtuous Minister named Chu Yuen wrote a series of poems drawing attention to the corruption of fellow officials, but when his complaints were disregarded he chose to kill himself to draw attention to the situation.

After he plunged into the waters of the Mi Lo River, boatmen propelled themselves to the scene to try to save him while drums were beaten furiously to drive away fish and serpents so they would not eat the body.

The loud beating of drums has also become part of the Dragon Boat ritual of today, along with the eating of "Rice Cakes" made of glutinous rice and wrapped in bamboo leaves. Such Rice Cakes were supposedly lowered into the waters to lure fish away from Chu Yuen's body, which according to legend was never found.

However, this lugubrious tale does date back more than 2,000 years, and with the passing of time some levity is taken with the Dragon Boat Festival celebrations of today.

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Moon Light Festival (also known as Mid-Autumn Festival)
The coming Moon Light Festival date is 2005 September 18th
August 15th (Lunar Calendar).The clear and radiant moon has been a subject of Chinese poetry and song since ancient times. And the moonlight of Moon Light Festival brings particular warmth and ease to the hearts of Chinese. This festival is said to have originated from the ancient ceremony of Sacrificing to the Moon Goddess. When that ceremony was later combined with the Legend of eating "Moon Cakes", Moon Light Festival grew in the popular consciousness to become the major occasion that it is today. Moon Light Festival
The Legend of Eating Moon Cakes
Moon Cakes symbolize the gathering of friends and family and are an indispensable part of the offerings made to the Earth God, Tu Ti Kung. According to popular belief, the custom of eating moon cakes began in the late Yuan dynasty. As the story goes, the Han people of that time resented the Mongol rule of the Yuan Dynasty and revolutionaries, led by Chu Yuan-chang, plotted to usurp the throne. Chu needed to find a way of uniting the people to revolt on the same day without letting the Mongol rulers learn of the plan. Chu's close advisor, Liu Po-wen, finally came up with a brilliant idea. A rumor was spread that a plague was ravaging the land and that only by eating a special moon cake distributed by the revolutionaries could the disaster be prevented. The moon cakes were then distributed only to the Han people, who found, upon cutting the cakes open, the message "Revolt on the fifteenth of the eighth moon." Thus informed, the people rose together on the designated day to overthrow the Yuan, and since that time moon cakes have become an integral part of the Moon Light Festival.
There are four types of moon cakes: ping, su, kuang, and tai. Ping style moon cakes originated in Peking and resemble sesame cakes, with a crisp and savory outer crust. The su style of moon cakes are sweet with a thin, delicate layered crust which is judged according to its tenderness and whiteness. The kuang style are wrapped in a pastry-like crust and are famous for their meticulously prepared fillings. The tai style of moon cake is traditionally eaten in Taiwan and is also known as "Moonlight Cakes." These cakes use sweet potatoes for filling and are sweet, tender, and tasty without being oily.

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Chang O Flees to the Moon
Chang O Flees to the Moon According to a famous Chinese legend, the sky was originally lit by ten suns, whose combined heat scorched the earth and crops so that the people had nothing to eat. To save the world from imminent starvation China's most famous archer, Hou Yi, shot down nine of the suns with his bow and then rid the land of poisonous snakes and beasts so people could live in peace and happiness.
Unfortunately for Hou Yi, these ten suns turned out to be the sons of the Jade Emperor, who was so angered by the loss of his sons, that he banished the archer together with his wife, Chang O, and children from the face of the earth. When the Western Goddess discovered what had happened, she took pity on Hou Yi, giving him an elixir of immortality. But Chang O greedily swallowed the potion by herself and as the concoction worked through her body she became lighter and lighter and floated up into the sky. Fearing that the deities in heaven would laugh at her, she took refuge on the moon, building there a palace known as the "Cold Palace," where she lives to this very day as the Lady of the Moon. Since it is believed that Chang O floated to the moon on the fifteenth day of the eighth moon, people offer annual prayer and sacrifices to the moon on that day to commemorate the event.
It is said that Chang O transforms herself into brilliant moonlight and descends to earth to offer good fortune. Thus, couples to swear their mutual love under the full moon and separated lovers to pray to the for reunion under the full moon.

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Wu Kang Chops Down the Cassia Tree     Wu Kang
If you look carefully at the dark shadows on the full moon, you may be able to see Wu Kang chopping down a cassia tree.
In Chinese mythology, Wu Kang is portrayed as a woodcutter fascinated with the magic of immortality. Angered by his hubris, the gods banished Wu Kang to the Moon Palace telling him that he must cut down a huge cassia tree before he could return to earth. Though he chopped day and night, the magical tree restored itself with each blow, and thus he continues to eternally chop the cassia on the barren moon.

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The Jade Rabbit Grinds Medicine     The Jade Rabbit
In this legend, three sages transformed themselves into pitiful old men and begged for something to eat from a fox, a monkey and a rabbit. The fox and the monkey both had food to give to the old men, but the rabbit, empty-handed, offered his own flesh instead, jumping into a blazing fire to cook himself. The fairies were so touched by the rabbit's sacrifice that they let him live in the Moon Palace where he became the "Jade Rabbit."

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Lunar Calendar
Prior to adoption of the Western solar calendar system, China exclusively followed a lunar calendar in determining the times of planting, harvesting, and festival occasions.
Though today people in China use the western calendar for most practical matters of daily life, the old system still serves as the basis for determining numerous seasonal holidays. This coexistence of two calendar systems has long been accepted by the people of China.

A lunar month is determined by the period required for the moon to complete its full phasic cycle of 29 and a half days, a standard that makes the lunar year a full 11 days shorter than its solar counterpart. This difference is made up every 19 years by the addition of seven lunar months.
The 12 lunar months are further divided into
24 solar divisions distinguished by the four seasons and times of heat and cold, all bearing close relationship to the yearly cycle of agricultural work.

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24 solar divisions
The traditional Chinese calendar divides the year into 24 solar divisions with one chieh or "segment" and one chi or "climate" in each of the twelve months. This system developed as a way of marking the significant seasons and climate changes during the farmers' yearly cycle of work, from sowing and tilling to the final harvest.

The 24 solar divisions begin with the "Start of Spring," which is followed in turn by "Rain Water," when preparations for planting are made; "Excited Insects," a time of spring thunder and the stirring of new life; the spring equinox; "Clear and Bright," marked by the howling of southeasterly winds; and "Grain Rains," reminding the farmers that the seasonal downpours are beginning. The summer divisions begin with "Start of Summer"; "Grain Fills," when the grain swells on the stalks; "Grain in Ear," marking the time of harvest; the summer solstice; and "Slight Heat" and "Great Heat," when the warmth of summer becomes increasingly more oppressive.

The summer divisions are followed in turn by the "Start of Autumn," the day on which the temperature begins to cool; "White Dew," when the moisture congeals to frost; the autumnal equinox, the true start of the fall season; and with "Cold Dew" and " Frost Descends," the weather turns cold as winter nears. The "Start of Winter," is followed by "Light Snow" and "Heavy Snow," which mark the beginning of deep winter. The next division in the year, winter solstice, is a day of deep significance, and is celebrated in Taiwan by eating a sweet dumpling soup called tang yuan to fortify the body in preparation for the biting frost of "Little Cold" and "Severe Cold," the final two divisions of the cycle before beginning the new year.

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