U.S.-China Institute at Bryant University

Culture Celebration

Duanwu Festival, Dragon Boat Festival (端午节)

Celebration at China Institute

Traditional Chinese Zongzi made during the Institute's Duanwu Festival Gathering

On June 16th the China Institute celebrated the Duanwu Festival, or Dragon Boat Festival by making traditional Chinese rice dumplings called Zongzi.  The festival occurs during the fifth month of the fifth day of the lunar calendar.Origin

The Duanwu Festival originated in the third century BCE.  The tradition goes that Qu Yuan, a loyal minister and scholar of the emperor during the Warring Stated Period, committed suicide by drowning himself in the Milo river after being accused of conspiracy.  The common people, knowing his righteousness, ran to the river to try and save him by rowing out into the river as fast as they could.  After realizing that Qu Yuan had been lost people made Zongzi and threw them into the river in hopes that the fish would eat them instead of Qu Yuan's body.  Today people celebrate this holiday by making and eating Zongzi and having dragon boat races.


To celebrate the Duanwu Festival the China Institute staff, teachers and interns gathered together and made Zongzi.  A coin was placed in one of the Zongzi to bring good luck to the person that found it when it was eaten.  Everyone learned how to properly wrap the Zongzi as to make a pocket and not let any rice fall out. After filling up the pocket made by the bamboo leaves with rice we wrapped them closed and tied     them with string so that they won't fall apart when boiled.  After a few hours we returned to enjoy the Zongzi along with other Chinese dishes such as spicy cabbage and pidan which is known in English as the hundred-year-old egg.  Everyone enjoyed the festivities and the Zongzi, which were, of course, delicious.

Chinese Lunar New Year (春节)

2010 Celebration at Bryant University

Saturday, February 20, 2010, 10:30am through 3:00pm
The Main Gym,
Chace Wellness & Athletic Center
Bryant University
What to expect:
Performances by the Art Troupe of China University of Geosciences (Wuhan)
(中国地质大学(武汉)艺术团),local community groups and university

Admission is free and open to the general public.
Optional Lunch is available for $7.



The Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival, is the most important traditional holiday for the Chinese at home and abroad. Generally falls in January or February based on the lunar calendar, 

The Chinese New Year traditions have been around for thousands of years, including the legend of Nian. It is believed that Nian, literally meaning “year” in Chinese, is a ferocious beast eating people on New Year’s Eve.  It is said that Nian dislike the color red, loud noises, and fire. Thus, on New Year’s Eve, people will put red paper couplets on their doors, set off fireworks and light torches to scare away Nian. The next day, people celebrate and rejoice that they kept Nian away for another year.

In present day China, most of these traditions still remain. Leading up to the New Year, people will clean their entire house, hoping to sweep out the ill-fortune and to start the New Year on a clean slate. On New Year’s Eve, families get together to celebrate the holiday with delicious dinner.  Parents give their children red envelopes filled with money, usually in even numbers because odd numbers are considered unlucky.  The rest of the night is filled with family games, watching the New Year’s celebrations on television and setting off firecrackers. Many Chinese people will stay up all night to embrace the arrival of the new year while eating the hand-made jiaozi, which are dumplings boiled in water.

The celebration of Chinese New Year will last till the 15th day of the January on Lunar calendar, known as the Festival of Lanterns. It is the first night to see a full moon at the very beginning of a new year. There are thousands of colorful lanterns hung out to highlight this event. People will eat Yuan Xiao, a traditional round-shape food made of sticky rice and seasmine pastry stuffy.

The Chinese have twelve zodiac animals. Starting with rat, they are ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig, which all rotate through a twelve year cycle. These zodiacs are supposed to represent the personality and characteristics of a person born in that year. 

Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节)


The Mid-Autumn Festival, also called the Moon Festival, is one of the two most important traditional holidays for the Chinese. The festival falls on the 15th day of the eighth month on the lunar Calendar, usually sometime between the second week of September and the second week of October on the Western Calendar.

In China the full moon symbolizes reunion so the day is also known as a festival of reunion. All family members try to return home on this special day. Those who cannot go home watch the full moon and feel deep longing for their loved ones faraway. The day is also considered a harvest holiday, like Thanksgiving here in the U.S., since fruit, vegetables, and grain are harvested by this time.

Worshipping the moon can be traced back 2000 years to the ancient Xia and Shang Dynasty and celebrations have evolved throughout China's history. During the Southern Song Dynasty, people sent round moon cakes to their relatives as gifts. The Mid-Autumn Festival that is currently celebrated gained popularity during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.