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Nanjing Folk Cultures

Tomb-sweeping Day (Qingming Jie)

From the ancient time, the Qingming Festival has been paid great attention to both by Chinese Courts and common people since tomb-sweeping that day is a custom. When the day comes, people go tomb-sweeping in means of burning papers, spilling wine, making a tomb hat and planting willows in order to express their memorial towards the ancestors. Besides, people will bring some tea and snacks for the tomb keeper who will keep the food and drink, hence the name “tomb relatives”.

When it comes to the Qingming, the spring is great with plenty of sunshine. People can go out of doors to enjoy natural charms. Places such as Ox Head Mountain, Yu Hua Tai and Plum Blossom Mountain are all wonderful choices for a spring excursion.

The Ox Head Mountain has more scenic spots in recently years and it is connected with the General Mountain nearby where becomes a brilliant place for tourists to enjoy the natural beauties. Besides, located in the southern part of Nanjing, the Yu Hua Tai is a frequently visited place of interest. So is Plum Blossom Mountain in the eastern suburb. In recent decades, the Plum Blossom Mountain has a large area of plum gardens and it holds international plum festivals when crowds of people are intoxicated in the blooming plums and their sweet flavor, lingering on without no thought of leaving.

Loong Boat Festival (Duanwu Jie)

The Loong Boat Festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Nanjing people like having zongzi, green pea cake, “Frying Five Drugs” (The five “drugs” are silver fish, dried shrimp, brassica, Chinese chive and black bean curd), three-colored amaranth and java senna fruit on that day and they drink realgar wine to get away from disasters. Besides, people use water that has been burnt under the sunshine to wash their eyes so as not to suffer eye disease for the whole year; they also spray water on the ground by flagleaf and argyi leaf which are later put on the door header to protect the family from disasters. The paintings with Zhong Kui and pictures with five poisonous creatures are hung up to drive ghosts away and repel evil spirits. As for children, five-colored silk net with a salted duck egg inside are hung on their necks; five-colored cords are tied to their arms which are called “long longevity cords”; they wear shoes shaped like tiger head and scarves with tiger head paintings; “王”—a Chinese character is painted on the heads of children by the realgar wine. Five-colored tiger flowers are on women’s temples.

After lunch, the whole family will go to the Confucius Temple to watch the loong boat competition on the Qinhuai River. There are “three factions” of Jinling Loong boats: He, Jiang and Mu. No where has such a great number of loong boats with so large scale. Each boat is decorated with colorful kites and children play roles of games on it. When the competition begins, audiences throw coins or set free ducks and geese for amusements and cheer for the “championship”. Crowds of people gather on banks playing drums and cheering. As for some rich family, they can enjoy it on boat rented ahead of time. Boating on the Qinhuai River started from Tang Dynasty and went blooming from Ming and Qing to the early period of Republic of China. The Qinhuai River is famous for its gaily-painted boats, drums, sound of paddles and shadow of lights which have been vividly recorded in many books, such as “Ke Zuo Zhui Yu” by Gu Qiyuan, “The Peach Blossom Fan” by Kong Shangren and “Note of the Slat Bridge” by Yu Huai.

In recent two decades, the Qinhuai River has been under lots of renovations. Water has been changed in fixed times and the number of gaily-painted boats is increasing which makes the scenery more beautiful. At nights, when the lights on banks are on, it is more fantastic, especially when tourists go boating inside the painting-like scenery. People can truly enjoy themselves.

Mid-Autumn Day (Zhongqiu Jie)

The Mid-Autumn Day falls on the fifth day of the eighth lunar month which is also called the festival of August in Jiangnan area. People out of their hometowns will go back home for reunion that night with the full moon. Nanjing people like to enjoy the full moon together with their families to celebrate the reunion. Sitting around the table is called “Yuan Yue” (full moon) while going out on night streets is called “Zou Yue” (walking under the full moon). In the early period of Ming Dynasty, people can go to many places to enjoy the full moon, such as “Moon Watching Tower” and “Moon Playing Bridge” which is on the southern part of the Qinhuai River in the Confucius Temple. Next to the bridge is the residence of Ma Xianglan, a famous courtesan at that time who attracts men to play instruments and sing songs on the bridge and make poems towards the moon. Hence the name “Moon Playing Bridge” which is even recorded in some poems. Besides, the “Moon Tower” at the foot of the Lion Mountain is also a good place in the Qing Dynasty.

Key Words

Tea   West Lake   

Temple      Su Dongpo 


Fans   Embroidery


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