Not long after the start of 2023, the moment for bidding farewell to the past and embracing the future for Chinese people came. Since January 22, China has entered the Year of the Rabbit, a year of vitality in the lunar calendar. The week-long period from January 21 to January 27 is China’s 2023 Spring Festival holiday, which is the most festive period of the lunar year for Chinese people.
Like Christmas, the Spring Festival is the most lively annual festival for Chinese people. In addition to the grand family reunion, there are also traditional local customs, delicious food full of regional characteristics, impressive central and local Spring Festival gala performances and diversified folk culture activities. A series of festive elements together constitute a happy and auspicious Chinese New Year.
China has a vast territory and boasts abundant resources. In the national celebration of the festival, in addition to the Spring Festival Eve dinner, pasting couplets, sending greetings and other common customs, each place has its own unique ways to usher in the lunar new year. If one wants to experience as many aspects of the Chinese New Year as possible at one stop, Taizhou City in east China’s coastal Zhejiang Province is the place to go.
Official statistics show that during the Spring Festival holiday, the Ancient City of Taizhou received 712,600 visits, including 138,000 visits on the fourth day of the first lunar month, a new daily record high. Its total number of tourist visits during the holiday ranked the second among the 5A-level scenic spots of ancient towns in China, second only to the ancient town of Lijiang in southwest China’s Yunnan Province.
Home to many mountains and facing the sea, Taizhou enjoys a unique geographical position, so the Spring Festival culture here combines the elements of both inland and coastal areas. As a city in the central area of the Yangtze River Delta, the local economy is developed. During the Spring Festival, various activities have been staged to add to the festive atmosphere.
Food is the centerpiece of China’s Spring Festival, and Taizhou’s cuisine will live up to the expectations of diners.
Compared with many places in the north whose residents eat dumplings during the Spring Festival, Taizhou locals eat more rice cakes. This pastry made of rice or glutinous rice has the auspicious meaning of longevity for the elderly, growing taller for children and better development for young and middle-aged people.
Like rice cakes, many delicious foods in Taizhou are made of glutinous rice as the main raw material, giving people a kind of glutinous feel, such as plum blossom cake, wheat cake, orange cake and mochi made with oriental blueberry leaves. Hehe burritos, which could wrap various ingredients, are also the special cuisine of Taizhou during the Spring Festival. Costal Taizhou is not short of seafood, and all kinds of blue crabs, yellow croaker and mudskippers are popular local Chinese New Year’s purchases.
To learn about Taizhou’s development this year, one could watch the annual local Spring Festival Gala on TV or online. This year’s gala continued to tell Taizhou stories via locals, featuring 20 programs such as song and dance, crosstalk, sketch, Yue Opera, magic and acrobatics. These impressive performances covered all aspects of Taizhou’s development in the past year. For example, Taizhou was rated among the happiest cities in China for the seventh time, the S1 line of Taizhou municipal railway was officially opened to traffic, the workshop for common prosperity helped farmers increase their income, and the city worked together to fight the COVID-19 epidemic, according to Global Communication Center of Hehe Culture.
In Taizhou Intangible Cultural Heritage Exhibition Hall, the local folk culture and old customs are well combined, enabling people to taste the profound Spring Festival cultural feast. One could learn about the shell carvings in Yuhuan City, Taizhou, and try to make a beautiful “Blessing” – pendant with shells. While learning about the characteristics of Taizhou embroidery, one could try to make an embroidered rabbit sachet.
Lion dance and hanging up lanterns are old customs in many places in China. The Huangsha Lion Dance in Taizhou is entrusted with the expectations of the working people for a better future. Artists will go from village to village to perform the lion dance from the Chinese New Year Eve to the second day of lunar February, giving good luck to the local people, reducing disasters and sharing blessings. Xianju County’s boneless lanterns have a history of over one thousand years, and red lanterns made with their unique skills could create a unique festive atmosphere for the Spring Festival.
In addition to watching the Spring Festival Gala and enjoying folk customs, another activity in the holiday is to go to various fairs, where food, drink and entertainment are abundant. This Spring Festival, Taizhou organized a lively characteristic cultural tourism market combined with local cultural tourism resources.
In the Central CBD Square of Hehe Park in Jiaojiang District, Taizhou City, one could enjoy band performances, watch open-air movies and taste authentic specialties. In Luqiao District, Taizhou City, a time-honored old commercial street invited provincial and municipal famous food shops and specialty snack bars to entertain visitors.
Ziyang Street, an ancient street in Linhai City, focused on Song Dynasty culture, drawing lessons from the entertainment life of Song people to hold various activities such as fairs, stage performances, and Song apparel experience. Meanwhile, the cultural experience was enhanced through digital technology, and the intangible culture and various handmade products are integrated into the fair, so that the Song Dynasty culture is visible, sensible, experiential and consumable.
Taizhou is not as cold in winter as northern cities in China, and it is also a well-known tourist destination, attracting many locals and tourists to spend the holiday. This year, Taizhou rolled out a preferential policy to benefit visitors, offering free first-stop tickets for 74 tourist attractions in the city during the week-long holiday.
In Taizhou, one could climb the Tiantai Mountain and enjoy the rime covered in snow at the main peak. One could walk into the Guoqing Temple, the birthplace of the Tiantai Sect of Chinese Buddhism, and enjoy the elegant fragrance of the Sui Dynasty plum blossom. One could go to Dachen Island and Jishan Island to have a look of the romantic island scenery, and taste the delicious seafood. One could explore the streets of Taizhou to feel the profound Hehe culture. One also could visit many characteristic villages near the mountains and the sea in Taizhou, and taste local unique custom culture and farm life in the new era.
On the first day of the first lunar month, Shenxianju Scenic area welcomed the first sea of clouds in the Year of the Rabbit. The overlapping sea of clouds and peaks formed a beautiful ink painting scroll. Visitors walked in the clouds, as if they were in a fairyland.
Among the Twelve Earthly Branches in China, the smart and flexible rabbit represents dawn, spring, infinite vigor and vitality. In the Year of the Rabbit, if people want to feel the vitality of China’s economy, they must come to Taizhou, because it is the birthplace of joint-stock cooperative economy and the most active area of private economy, known as the “capital of manufacturing”.
Come on, in this Year of the Rabbit in the post-epidemic era, start a trip to Taizhou to experience Chinese culture, enjoy the beautiful landscape and feel China’s development.
Source: Global Communication Center of Hehe Culture