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Chinese Culture

Chinese characters evolved from pictures and signs, and the Chinese art of calligraphy developed naturally from its unique writing system. Through the ages, great calligraphers developed representative calligraphic styles of their times. The love of calligraphy is deeply ingrained in Chinese scholars, and has been handed down to the present day.

The roots of Chinese painting can be traced back to paintings on Neolithic pottery six or seven thousand years ago. Since similar tools and lines were used for the earliest painting and writing, painting is said to have the same origin as calligraphy. Thus, Chinese paintings usually integrate poetry or calligraphy with themes that include figures, landscapes, flowers, birds and other animals. Traditional Chinese painting remains a highly valued genre, often on exhibit in China as well as other countries. The contemporary art world in China is also very active. Some Chinese artists have become adept at Western-style painting, both oil and watercolor. Many Chinese painters have created works that combine traditional Chinese painting techniques with those of the West, enhancing both forms. The China Art Gallery and other art galleries hold individual or joint art exhibitions year in year out. Art expositions are held each year in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai.

Papercuts, kites, jade and other stone carvings, cloisonné, wooden toys — these arts with ancient roots in China are still widely practiced, especially among ethnic groups. Noted for their exquisite workmanship, some Chinese crafts use simple materials like scissors and paper in the case of papercuts while others use materials that are elegant and expensive, as in jade carvings. China's cloisonné — inlaid enamel — is popular both at home and abroad in products that include bottles, bowls, and cups. The blue glaze produced during the Jingtai reign period (1450-1456) of the Ming Dynasty Emperor Daizong is considered the best.

China has more than 300 forms of traditional opera, of which Peking Opera is the most popular. Peking Opera evolved from Kunqu Opera, an even more ancient art of drama listed by UNESCO in 2001 among the first group of works representing humankind through oral history. Other popular local operas include Yueju (Shaoxing Opera from Zhejiang), Huangmeixi (from Anhui), Chuanju (Sichuan Opera), Yuju (Henan Opera), and Yueju (Guangdong Opera). Peking Opera developed in early 19th-century Beijing and presents singing, music, chanting, dancing and martial arts all in one stage performance. The dramatic masks and costumes of Peking Opera are world-renowned. Famous Peking Opera actors and actresses over the years included Mei Lanfang, Cheng Yanqiu, Ma Lianliang, Zhou Xinfang and Du Jinfang. Since the 1990s, the emergence of highly talented young performers has helped demonstrate the continued importance of Peking Opera in Chinese culture. In recent years, the Peking Opera Theatre of China has experimented with incorporating western symphonic music in its productions.

Chinese Festivals

Boasting rich cultural meaning and a long history, traditional Chinese festivals compose an important and brilliant part of Chinese culture.

The formation of traditional festivals is a long process of historical and cultural accumulation in a nation or a state. Festival customs passed down to today still show signs of ethnic group struggles. Festival activities always reflect primitive sacrifice, superstitious taboo and earthly life, people's spirit and religious influence. Sometimes historical figures become the focus of a festival, showing people's commemoration for them and endowing some historical sense to it.

Moreover, traditional Chinese festivals were often connected with ancient astronomy, calendars and mathematics. Jieqi, or the 24 seasonal division points, is a key factor in forming traditional festivals. According to the traditional Chinese calendar, a year is divided into 24 points, which can accurately show seasonal changes and acts as a basic guidance system for agricultural production. The 24 seasonal division points came into being in the Warring States Period (475 BC-221 BC).

Most traditional festivals took shape during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), the first unified and power-centralized dynasty of China. By the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), China had experienced a great development period and major traditional festivals were fixed. In the most prosperous Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), traditional festivals liberated themselves from primitive sacrifice, taboo and mystery and became more entertaining. From then on, festive occasions turned more brisk and exciting and more and more folk customs were developed. Some festivals and customs we still follow today, but others disappeared into the mists of time.

As China is a vast land and has many ethnic groups, different ethnic groups have different festivals in different places. Even on the same festival, they follow different customs. Here we introduce some important and commonly celebrated festivals. In fact, these traditional festivals have absorbed nourishment from different regions and various ethnic cultures and are a precious cultural heritage for the whole Chinese nation and its guests.

List of Solar Calendar Festivals:

  • January 1st: New Year's Day
  • February 2nd: World Wetland Day
  • February 14th: Valentine's Day
  • March 8th: International Women's Day
  • March 15th: World Consumer Right Day
  • April 1st: April Fool's Day
  • April 5th: Tomb-sweeping Day
  • May 1st: International Labour Day
  • May 4th: Chinese Youth Day
  • June 1st: International Children's Day
  • June 5th: International Environment Day
  • July 1st: Anniversary of the Founding of the Chinese Communist Party
  • August 1st: Army Day
  • September 10th: Teacher's Day 
  • September 27th: World Tourism Day
  • October 1st: National Day of People's Republic of China
  • October 31st: Halloween
  • December 25th: Christmas Day
  • The second Sunday in May: Mother's Day
  • The third Sunday in June: Father's Day


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