Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism

Experience Folk Customs of Chinese New Year in Qiandao Lake

Qiandao Lake was a place of mountains and rivers in the ancient times and Chun'an people are descendants of people of ancient mountains and rivers. For thousands of years, people gathered here, forming specific customs and habits, which have been passed down from generation to generation and rarely changed, and blocked by water and mountains, the customs of every village are different. It can be described as "different winds every ten miles and different customs every hundreds of miles." So, let’s come to Qiandao Lake to see what kinds of New Year customs prevail in different areas of Qiandao Lake. These New Year customs are really wonderful ~


Qiandaohu Town


“Inviting the Statues of Ancestors Out for An Inspection Tour”


The Jingtang Village (井塘村) of Qiandaohu Town, on the third day of the first lunar month every year (this year, the activity falls on January, 2019), will hold the activity of “Inviting the Statues of Ancestors Out for an Inspection Tour (堂主出巡)” where tourists can participate in; The route of the tour passes by slab bridge, Zhenying Temple (真应庙), ancient residential houses, “seven wells and eight ponds”, etc. Here, you can position yourself in the lively scene of Qiandaohu Town’s folk culture and feast your eyes on the natural landscape at valley bottom, gurgling spring and rock cliffs. 


Dashu Town大墅镇


Gan Shi Ba


“Gan Shi Ba (赶十八)” is a traditional New Year custom and Lantern Festival culture unique to Ruhong Village. Because of its history and culture, the village has rescheduled the Lantern Festival from the fifteenth day of the first lunar month to the eighteenth day. On that day, people flock to participate in the Lantern Festival celebration activities, hence the name. “Gan Shi Ba” is a common people-initiated folk event and has been practiced continuously for more than 600 years since the Yongle Period of the Ming Dynasty (1403-1424). 


According to legend, during the Yongle Period of the Ming Dynasty, a gifted youth named Chen Bing (程炳) served as the governor of the area. During his term, the area suffered from years of drought and people hoped badly for rain to fall. Chen Bing personally visited the Taoism rites venue to pray for rain, kneeled down on the ground under the scorching sun for three days and three nights, and died for long-time exposure to the heat. His piety, however, moved the God of Heaven, who sent rains to the area for three days and nights.


The self-giving spirits of Cheng Bing moved people deeply, who then built one after another temple to show their gratitude. The eighteenth day of the first lunar month is the birthday of Chen Bing and to honor him, the ancestors of Ruhong Village decided to celebrate the Lantern Festival on the eighteenth day of the first lunar month instead of the fifteenth day.


Wechang Town


Fushan Village Fang Xianweng Temple Fair


Fang Xianweng, who is said to be from Shedong (now Chun'an), was intelligent and knowledgeable. He had annotated on the "Meng Shi Yi (literal meaning: Meng’s Book of Changes; simplified Chinese: 孟氏易)", known the five elements of astronomy and the art of divination, and was appreciated by Emperor Hanzhang for its courage. To commemorate the ancestor Fang Xianweng, Fushan Village holds a Fanshan Temple Fair in the first lunar month of each year to welcome the New Year.


On the sixth day of the first lunar month, the villagers dress in new clothes, invite the statue of "Fang Xianweng" from the old ancestral hall, which is followed by a performance team such as "Patio Swing", and go around the village to accept the worship of villagers and descendants of Fang. The activity lasts until the Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month.


Weiping Town


Luoshen Bamboo Dance


Luoshen Bamboo Dance (Luo Shen Zhu Wu: 罗神竹舞) is a folk cultural art performance with a complete and fresh bamboo as the main prop. The bamboo, for its connection with the famous immortal Luo Yin Xiucai (Xiucai refers to the people who passed the imperial examination at the county level), is known as Luoshen (literally meaning that the Immortal whose surname is Luo) Bamboo, which accounts for the name of the dance, Luoshen Bamboo Dance.


Wangchuan Village was the first to have “Luoshen Bamboo Dance”. Around the year 1750 when the Qing Dynasty was in its heyday, villagers respected bamboos and viewed them as their ancestors. During festivals, villagers would dig up a bamboo along with its roots and place it in the village. They would then pray to the bamboo for pregnancy and prosperity.


Hecun Bench Dragon Dance


Hecun Village has the custom of performing Bench Dragon Dance on the fifth day of the first lunar month (Feb. 9, 2019). The Bench Dragon used for Hecun Village Bench Dragon Dance (he cun ban long wu: 河村板龙舞) is made of a bamboo strips and silk cloth-made dragon head, benches equipped with colorful lanterns and a dragon tail.


Normally, one month before the Spring Festival, the villagers in Hechun Village begin to make dragon head and tail out of bamboo strips and silk cloth and every household prepares a long bench equipped with colorful lanterns and with a round hole at each end for connection. On the night of the fifth day of the first lunar month, the performance of Hecun Village Bench Dragon Dance starts. On that night, every household gathers in front of the temple and finishes the formation of the bench dragon. They then tour around the village and perform. Whenever they reach a spacious area, they change the formation of the dragon, scurrying, leaping, writhing or kowtowing, the scene is very spectacular.


Yejia Village Dragon Lantern Gathering


According to legend, Yejia Village of Weiping Town (威坪镇叶家村), has long observed the custom of Dragon Lantern Performance on the third day of the first lunar month. In Yejia Village Dragon Lantern Gathering activity, the gongs and drums team leads the way in front, followed by a group of eight people who carry the dragon's head and then more than 50 young men carrying special benches to form a dragon, and a group of old people holding lanterns. They set off from Ye's Ancestral Hall to pass through main places of the village and then return to the Ye's Ancestral Hall. The dragon lantern tours the whole village, with a distance of eight kilometers, and the whole activity last three hours. In Yejia Village, the dragon dance has the meaning of wishing a lively and auspicious New Year ahead. In order to get a good luck, the villagers will spontaneously set off fireworks and firecrackers to welcome the dragon lantern.


Zuokou Town (左口乡)


Dragon Lantern Dance


It is said that the Dragon Lantern Dance on the Lantern Festival in Yaocun Village (瑶村), Zuokou Town (左口乡) has a history of more than 700 years. There are four groups of dragon lanterns in the village. Family members and relatives cannot be in the same group and must be separated, so that there will be no fighting for prizes.


Every night in the activity, torches, flags, boards, drums and gongs lead the way. The villagers set up incense tables and candles, and set off firecrackers at home, welcome the dragon lanterns at the door and offer them red envelopes to pray for good fortune in the New Year. On the 16th night of the first lunar month, villagers will go and grab the beard of the dragon lanterns. It is said that if the dragon lantern beard is grabbed, the whole family will be healthy and peaceful.


Jinfeng Town


Paying Respect to Ancestors with Pig Heads


Zhujia (the Clan in which people all have the surname, Zhu) Village has observed the custom of “paying respect to ancestors with pig heads (zhu tou ji zu; 猪头祭祖)” for over 600 years and is a significant part of Spring Festival celebrations in the region. Every year in the first lunar month, every household will offer decorated pig heads as sacrifices to ancestors in the clan ancestral temple and to pray for a smooth new year. During the activity, villagers with the largest and the most beautiful pig heads will be rewarded by the clan leader. In the evening, villagers will have “Xi Ding Jiu (Happy Flourishing Population Wine: 喜丁酒)” to pray for a flourishing population in the clan. Starting from the thirteenth day of the first lunar month (Feb. 17, 2019), there will be operas, Bamboo-Horse Dance, Lion Dance, Dragon Dance, juggling and other entertainment activities available in the village and the activity will continue untill the Lantern Festival (Feb. 19, 2019). This custom has become the spiritual support of the clan and has been passed down from generation to generation.


“Pay Respect to Ancestors with Pig Heads” is now a protection unit of Hangzhou municipal intangible cultural heritage and Zhujia Village is one of Spring Festival Culture featured area of Zhejiang Province. In recent years, the influence of the activity has been expanding and has become one of the village culture featured tourism projects in the area. Every year, it  attracts tourists from all over the world to come and watch it.


Pingmen Town屏门乡


Dingjiafan Lantern


Dingjiafan Lantern (丁家畈花灯) in Pingmen Town is not only a traditional folk lantern dance, but also a kind of traditional folk handicraft. It started in 1789 (during the Qianlong reign of the Qing Dynasty) and has a history of more than 220 years.


There are many types of lanterns in Pingmen Town. They feature vivid patterns and fine workmanship, and can be called fine folk art. The lanterns are: “blooming flowers and full moon” lanterns, “good fortune in four seasons” lanterns, “lucky” lanterns, “happiness as immense as the Eastern Sea” lantern, hibiscus lantern, butterfly and flower lantern, peony lantern, connected heart lantern, evergreen lantern, goldfish swimming lantern, gossip lantern, peach and plum garden lanterns, ”the magpie forecasts good news” lanterns, as well as the twelve zodiac signs lanterns, etc. All of them are lovely and lifelike, and are popular with both adults and children.


Folinghou Bench Dragon 【佛岭后板凳龙】


Folinghou Bench Dragon is called locally “supporting dragon lantern” and has a history of over 360 years. It is a folk activity practiced by Zheng’s clan in Folinghou Village to pray for an auspicious year with good weather, a bumper harvest and health.


Qikeng Green Lion 【齐坑绿狮】


Pingmen Green Lion is a great traditional folk art and every Lantern Festival and whenever there is a special event or celebration, Qikeng Village will perform Green Lion Dance. The folk custom originated in the late Qing Dynasty and gains popularity around the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It now has a history of over one hundred years.