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Culture Insider: Shangsi Festival

Updated: 2021-04-14 07:10 ( chinadaily.com.cn )
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Women wearing traditional Chinese costumes participate in the ancient custom of drifting eggs at Changzhou, Jiangsu province on March 29, 2018. [Photo/Chinanews.com]

Origin of the festival

There are many theories about the festival's true origins. Some say it stems from a dinner party held on the banks of the Qushui River during the Zhou Dynasty (1100 - 221 BC). Others say it comes from the custom of getting rid of evil by bathing in the river. On this day, people would hold a sacrificial ceremony by the riverside to honor their ancestors, then bathe in the river with herbs to cleanse and purify their bodies. Following that, young men and women would go for a spring outing – these scenes were described in the ancient text, Shi Jing (The Book of Songs).

Shangsi Festival activities have changed with the times. The feast and praying for descendants by the river were added in the Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 220). It was after the Wei and Jin dynasties (AD 220 - 420) that the event developed into the Double Third Day, fixed on the third day of the third lunar month.

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