Religious Holidays

Traditional and Modern

The Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year is talked about in the The Good Earth a lot. They talk about it a lot in Chapter 5 and they tell us how they celebrate and what they do. Wang and his family follow many of this traditions. It is the most important holiday in the Chinese culture. The date is based on the lunar calender, but is always between January 21 to February 20. Each year is also represented by one of the Chinese Zodiac animals. Usually people celebrate for seven consecutive days. They also have a reunion dinner with their entire family. Most people sacrifice to the deities and pray for a good harvest. Some traditional celebrations include: setting off firecrackers, ancestor worship, and dragon dances. Red is the main color of the holiday, and is thought to be lucky. Every street, building, and house is decorated in red. Gifts are also given and sent in a red envelope. The traditional foods eaten during holiday include: fish, Chinese dumplings, spring rolls, rice cakes, and sweet rice balls. They believe that what they do on the New Year will affect them for the rest of the year. They have many taboos and some of them are not to clean or wash or hair for the first three days, to keep their children from crying, to not ask for a loan, wearing red underwear, and to pray in the temple.

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

The second most important Chinese holiday is the Moon Festival. It is usually on 15th day of the 8th month. On that day there is a full moon that is the roundest and brightest of the whole year. It symbolizes unity and togetherness. On this day family and friends visit scenic spots, gaze at the moon, and eat mooncakes and pomeloes. They light and carry lanterns around on this day. Farmers celebrate their harvest and the end of the farming season. They don't really talk about this holiday much in the book, but they do mention that Wang Lung and other farmers like to celebrate at the end of their harvest.

Ghost Festival

The Ghost Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of 7th month. This holiday represents the connections between the living and the dead, earth and heaven, and body and soul. It is believed that the ghosts and spirits emerge from the lower world to visit Earth. Some of the activities are preparing offerings of food, burning ghost money (paper money), and burying and releasing miniature paper boats and lanterns on water. This signifies giving directions to the lost ghosts. They don't really talk about this holiday in the book. They do sometimes talk of the living and the dead, heaven and earth, and body and soul, but they are not directly mentioned to the Ghost Festival.

Qing Ming Jie (Tomb Sweeping Day)

It is celebrated on 106th day of the winter solstice. It is in the middle of Spring and a sacred day of the dead. This is a Chinese version of All Souls Day. This holiday remembers and honors ones' ancestors. They pray before their ancestors, sweep the tombs, and offer food to their ancestors. These are very important especially for farmers. Most Chinese people believe that if their ancestors' spirits are not properly cared for, they will become bad ghosts that haunt the living. In modern days, it has also become a patriotic day. This holiday is also not directly mentioned, but they do mention mourning and how important it is. They talk about this mostly during the deaths of O-lan, Wang Lung's Father, his uncle, and Ching.

Bibliography


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