Cultural Differences in Chinese and Western Festivals Festivals are precious cultural heritage of different countries. That is also the reason why festivals in China and western countries have little in common. As a matter of fact, Chinese and western festivals serve as an intriguing window into their cultural differences. Their different origins and people s different ways to celebrate the festivals all reflect their cultural contrasts. First of all, the naming and the origins of Chinese and western festivals are an indication of their totally different traditions. In China, many of our festivals are connected with seasons which have great influence on agriculture. New Year s Day, the Spring Festival, Qingming Festival, Duanwu Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, Chongyang Festival and Winter Solstice Festival are all examples. Take Duanwu Festival, for instance. Except for the explanations to honor the great poet Quyuan, many folk scholars believe that it originated from summer solstice and people s worship of dragons. In the fifth lunar month, crops begin to grow quickly. Obviously water is vitally important to agricultural production. While in ancient China, dragon was believed to be the god in charge of water. On the day of the festival, people raced dragon boats to please the god and offer him Zongzi. In this way, they pray for favorable weather for agriculture. As regards Chongyang Festival which falls on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, it is in the golden harvest season. All people are in great enjoyment of the exciting harvest. So we can see China has been a big country of agriculture since along time ago, and Chinese people tend to attach great importance to agriculture. Now let s see the origins of the western festivals. More often than not, we find the appearance of religion, especially Christianity. There are New Year s Day, Epiphany, Saint Patrick s Day, Good Friday, Easter, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. They are all connected with religion. Good Friday is the anniversary of the crucifixion of Jesus, Easter is to commemorate Jesus’ resurrection and Christmas is the birthday of Jesus Christ. We can see western festivals are covered with a strong color of religion. What s more, people s different ways to celebrate the festivals embody their different values. In China, we pursue health, union, and harmony. Food is a main subject for the celebration. In Spring Festival, we have dumplings, noodles, New Year cakes, etc. Noodles symbolize longevity, while the New Year cakes pronounce “niangao” in Chinese, which means life will become better and better year by year. Family reunion dinner is of cause in dispensable. We also eat moon cakes in Mid-autumn Day and Laba Porridge in Laba festival. We Chinese try to make our life more harmonious. However, for westerners the way of celebration is different. They never like to stay at home. Instead, they choose to go out and have fun. April Fools’ Day is a festival for playing tricks and it brings great fun. Activities to celebrate the Independence Day are colorful and exciting, including picnics, playing fireworks and parades. For them, to realize individual value is the most important. They like to express their own feelings freely. For example, Saint Valentine’s Day is a good chance for westerners to express their romantic love. Compared with this, Chinese people are more confined to the old tradition. On Double-Seventh Day which can be called “Chinese Valentine’s Day”, people just can recall the stories of Niulang and Zhinu then do nothing. To sum up, Chinese and western festivals are a window into their different cultures, including their tradition, their belief and their value. To learn different festivals is to promote cross culture communication. We should know the origins and people’s ways of celebration to understand the different cultures. Thus communication between China and Western countries will be much easier. Festival culture is very profound. The festival customs in dissimilar countries are established by usage, with the own distinct national feature and rich presentation forms, but they in filtrate to each other. This and the western countries: Spring Festival and the Christmas Day, the Pure Brightness Festival and the Halloween, the Chinese Valentine’s Day and the Western Valentine’s Day. In China, as spring is the most beautiful season and all creatures on earth begin to grow, flowers are blooming in a riot of color; seeds sprout everywhere, it is vitally important to celebrate the coming of the spring. As the beginning of a year, December 23rd in lunar year is the prelude to Spring Festival. On that day, all families without exception will worship the god of the kitchen and started to busily prepared for the New Year’s coming. In addition, according to the traditional habits, Chinese people will also make a thorough cleanup, which is also called spring-cleaning, to show their desire to sweep “the old and bad things” out of their house, ring out the Old Year and ring in the New Year. After this work, every house along the street has a bright and new look. With paper-cuts on the windows, couplets on the wall and red lanterns in front of the door, it looks really brilliant and full of happiness. The New Year’s Eve is the last day of December in lunar year. At that night, all members in a family will get together to enjoy the “family reunion dinner”, implied meaning lucky and harmony. When having dinner, everyone should only talking about things happy and good, avoid referring to death, disease or something bad. What’s more, family members will not sleep until the dawn of the New Year’s Day. Instead, they will chat, watching TV and having snacks such as melon seeds, orange, and peanuts. The most exciting moment is when the New Year’s Bell rang. It seems as if all the firecrackers around the world are set off with only one second. The sound of firecrackers will not stop until the dawn, and the new upsurge will begin at that time, when every family open the door and begin to visit their relatives. The carnival will continue to January 15th in lunar year. In western countries, a similar festival is the Christmas Day which actually begins in December 12th and ends in January 6th in the next year. Like Chinese New Year, it is also a period rather than only one day, which is familiar to us all – December 25th. As the birthday of Jesus Christ, the Christmas Day is with no doubt the most vitally day all over the year. And as we all know, most western people are Christian. Red, green and white are regarded as the luckiest colors in Christmas Day, as they stand for the Christmas candle, Christmas tree and pure snow. People decorate a kind of evergreen tree with all kinds and colors of lights, balloons, gifts, paper flowers and so on, all filled with a festival atmosphere. Santa Claus is the most famous figure in western festival. All children believe that they will receive a brilliant gift from Santa Claus, and as they growing up, they will gradually know that their Santa Claus is a figure in human’s imagination. But who care? The most important thing is they get pleasure and own a happy childhood full of imagine. Just like Chinese spring-dinner, western people value the reunion of the whole family. They having dinner together beside the Christmas tree and enjoy themselves in playing until late at night. It is worth mentioning that the most popular songs during this period are “Silent Night”, “Jingle Bells”. Spring Festival and the Christmas Day all show the happy and harmonious atmosphere established in family reunion. By contrast, Chinese people prefer to express their affection and homesick, while western people are more likely to pray for the gift of God. Pure Brightness here means clear and clean. Pure Brightness Festival is from Chinese lunar calendar. It is a time to remember the dead and the dearly departed. In Pure Brightness Festival, it’s a custom to visit one’s ancestor’s grave and sweep their tomb. Therefore, Pure Brightness Festival is also called Tomb-sweeping Day. The reason why Chinese people choose this day for honoring their ancestors may be that this day is the beginning of spring and ending of winter, all creatures begin to grow and people believe that their ancestors will obtain their new lives this day. They will look over the tomb carefully and make sure that there is no damage or corrosion. Then they will busting some paper-money, paper-flowers or some other things all made of paper, which is regarded as necessity for the dead people’s everyday use. Celebrate this Festival is important to all of us, but burning paper is not the only way. Beyond that, going for an excursion and fling kites. Sobriety is one of the Ghost Festival, demons; nature is capable of warding off evil into willow. Chinese Pure Brightness Festival has the great value of commemoration and show the “Immortality of Soul” theory in the traditional Chinese thinking modes. Life-sustaining is not confines in biological process, but in the continuation of Chinese culture. It exists in the concept inherited from one generation to the next and is reverted by the whole Chinese nation. Relatively, the western “Ghost Festival” is the Halloween. Children dress up in costumes at night on Halloween and play pumpkin lanterns-pumpkins are a traditional part of the celebration, all people have parties and play games. Young person get together, wearing interesting costumes and all kinds of masks, visiting every house along the street and asking for sweets. It is said that ghosts will also visit the human world at night on Halloween and living person should try their best to treat them with warmth. The fire and pumpkin lantern are used to frighten the ghost and lead them back. On that day, people could do everything or make joke or trouble as they like and never mind other’s resentment, because everyone does as well. All people are happy and enjoy themselves in the harmony with the Nature. Love is the permanent topic of human society. In china, people celebrate Chinese Valentine’s Day, which has a long history. It is also called “Qixi Festival” or “Double Seventh Festival”, as the date is July 7th in lunar year. How did the festival get its name? It is said that, once upon a time, there was a cowboy called “Niulang” and a fairy called “Zhinu” who fell in love with each other. However, their love was not allowed by others just because a fairy couldn’t love a human being. As a result, Zhinu was forced to go back to the Heaven and not allowed to meet Niulang any other time beside the Double Seventh Day. It usually rains more or less on this evening of the year, after being separated on either side of the Milky Way as a punishment by the Lord of Heaven. The Chinese Valentines Day is comparably more romantic yet heartrending, because this is the only time of year when the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl (Zhinu) meet each other cross the Milky Way. Luckily，their true love moved the magpie, which was regarded as a lucky bird in China. These helpful birds consist a bridge over the Milky Way and the lovers could met each other at that day. On this day, people will looked up towards the sky to look for the Milky Way, the stars stand for the couple and pray for their love. Young girls will pray for ingenuity by making some hand-made little bag and hope for a happy ending. The Western Valentine’s Day is February 14th, which originated in the ancient Rome. The third century AD, ancient Rome, there was a tyrant called Claudius Meadows. Ancient Rome has been continuous war, more than a tyrant Crowe recruited a large number of Sri Lankan citizens to the battlefield, complaints were heard everywhere. Crowe Meadows fly into a rage, he was not allowed to transmit orders to hold a wedding, not even all at once to be engaged in also to the dissolution of marriage. A boy called Valentinus performed secret weddings after Claudius banned marriage to prevent soldiers from deserting his armies. His action was heard by Crowe Meadows and Valentinus was arrested and put into prison. The boy was tortured and finally put to death. His friends buried him in great sorrow on February 14th. When they think of Emperor Claudius, they remember how he tried to stand in the way of love, and they laugh-because they know that love can t be beaten! And now the Western Valentine’s Day has become a day for lovers who have a strong will of love. On that day, lovers give gifts to each other, young boys will choose roses and girls chocolates. You could see sweet and happy lovers everywhere in the street.