Temple Fairs in Beijing

Beijing, the capital of China is a popular tourist destination, famous for sites such as The Forbidden City, and The Great Wall. During China's Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year, it is particularly popular with visitors from China and the world. Many Chinese people believe that they will receive great luck by being in the imperial city. One of the most popular Spring Festival events is temple fairs. It is very special and a cultural tradition which features many different kinds of traditional activities.

Origin

Beijing has several fairs which are held during the Chinese New Year period. Since the fairs are held at various ancient temples, they are called "temple fairs". Temple fairs originated around 1,000 C.E. with the development of Buddhism and Taoism in China. They are a mass gathering known as "Spring Outings" which originally held only religious significance. As time passed, they became more than just religious events. They began to incorporate entertainment and retail venues for special Spring Festival items. Venders began setting up stalls outside of temples to try to make sales to pilgrims visiting the temples. They businesses developed until they became a permanent fixture of temple fairs. The temple fairs became more popular with residents of Beijing and now are considered a vital part of Spring Festival celebrations.

Activities on Temple Fairs

Beijing's temple fairs show cultural entertainment and arts that were once common in Beijing, but now are rarely seen outside of the temple fairs. There are many performances and art displays, along with special foods. Lion and dragon dances, stilt walking performances are seen, as are Zhongfan Flag plays, and peek shows (a box in which visitors peer to watch a sort of puppet show). Many items are available for sale such as silk dolls, hand-made candies, crafted from colored sugar syrup, traditional clay toys that were once meant only for children, but are now used as decorations, calligraphy, and paintings.

The two most popular temple fairs in Beijing are the Baiyunguan Miaohui held at the White Cloud Temple, and the Ditan Miaohui, held at the Altar of the Earth. The White Cloud Temple is the largest Taoist Temple in Beijing and the home of the Chinese Taoist Association. The Altar of the Earth was the altar where China's Emperors would leave offerings to the god of the Earth.

Temple fairs are incredibly popular with everyone who sees them. For Chinese people, they are a remembrance of some very special pieces of their culture, and to Westerners, it is a wonderful way to see some of China's past in the present.

-Or Back to-2014 Chinese New year