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Chinese Traditional Seasonal Activities

Swinging

Swing, as a traditional sport and program on festive occasions, is very popular among the Hans and other minorities such as the Korean nationality and the Lahu nationality. In the Han and Wei Dynasties, swing already evolved from a military training program into an entertainment enjoyed by both the imperial palace and the ordinary families, especially on the Beginning of Spring (the first of the 24 solar program among the diversified celebrating activities. Swinging was so popular on Cold Food Festival that it was even referred to as Swinging Festival

It is said that swinging originated from the reign of Wudi of the Hart Dynasty. It was invented as a game for the imperial palace to celebrate his birthday and wish him long life of one thousand years. Therefore, at that time, it was called qianqiu (one thousand years) which was falsely rumored as qiuqian in later ages.

In the Tang Dynasty, this sport, prevalent in the imperial palace, was called half immortal game. Beautiful imperial concubines were gorgeously dressed up and richly ornamented and then sat or stood on swings with two hands gripping the ropes, swinging gracefully, dizzily pleasant as immortals. Hence the vivid name half immortal game

Kite Flying

Like many age-old cultural fruits, kites initially showed up in China. The northerners call it zhiyuan (paper sparrow hawk), while the southerners call it yaozi (sparrow hawk). With muyuan (wooden sparrow hawks) original shape, a kite is a primitive aircraft made by ancestors. It is a pity that kind of craft has been lost. Until the Hart Dynasty, bamboo slips were chosen for the frame structure with paper or thin silk stuck together in shape of birds attached with a slanting line. Gripping the line, people flew the kite onto the sky with the help of the wind. Hence, it derived the name zhiyuan. Usually a bamboo flute is handed on a kite and gives forth sounds similar to those of zheng as a result of the blowing wind. Zheng is a 21- or 25- stringed plucked instrument in someway similar to zither. This is why kite is called fengzheng (wind zither).

The legend behind it is that the master carpenter Lu Ban once cut a piece of bamboo and make it into a magpie shape. He called it wooden magpie. It kept flying on the sky for three days and nights. Therefore, if muyuan were taken as the earliest kite, then Lu Ban would be the inventor of kites.

Kite flying is a favorite pastime to people all over the world today. According kite lore, the first kite was flown in China about 3,(300 years ago. In modern China, kites are used not only as toys, but also as exquisite handicrafts worthy of collection. Tianjin has long enjoyed a great reputation as a kite provider. “Kite Wei” is a famous brand of kites in Tianjin, originated by folk craft master Wei Yuantai (1872-1961) Kite Wei products once won a gold medal at San Francisco’s Panama Pacific International Exposition in 1915. The city of Weifang, Shandong Province, hosts the Weifang International Kite Festival annually in mid-April.

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