Autumn heralds start of Hangzhou persimmon festival and themed fair
The annual Xixi Wetland Fiery Persimmon Festival has marked the advent of autumn in Hangzhou for 17 years, and this year it will last through October 17.
The history of persimmon planting in China dates back more than a millennium when people generally dried fruits as food for the chilly winter. The sweet-tasting fruit helped replenish energy when food was scarce and livened up bland diets.
Hangzhou people began to plant persimmons centuries ago. In the Xixi Wetland, around 7,000 persimmon trees produce about 75,000 kilograms of fruit on average each year.
The organizing committee has already issued coupons for over 5,000 kilograms of persimmons to residents for free and rolled out a welcome mat for visitors during the National Day holiday which starts from tomorrow to October 7.
During the weeklong holiday, the park will host a fair themed around the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). Visitors will be able to partake in authentic entertainment activities that were popular among locals many centuries ago, including cuju (蹴鞠), touhu (投壶) and chuiwan (捶丸).
Cuju, an ancient Chinese game, is regarded by some experts as the earliest form of football. Touhu is a type of ancient arrow-throwing game, while chuiwan is a sport similar to modern golf.
When Hangzhou was made China's capital during the Southern Song Dynasty, locals flocked to the Xixi Wetland to pluck persimmons and visit temple fairs around the solar term qiufen, or the autumnal equinox, which is on September 23 this year.
Autumn's cool temperatures and crisp air are ideal conditions for maturing persimmons. The plucking of Xixi persimmons has become a new calling card for the city during autumn. As the fruit ripens, families descend on the area to pick persimmons and take part in fun bonding activities during the festival.
In late autumn, locals will pick fruits and make preserved pulp. The fruit is broken in half and then dried in the sun for several days, leaving only the pulp. During the festival, cuisines made of dried persimmons are available to savor at restaurants inside the Xixi Wetland Park.
After grabbing a bite of food, visitors can see craftspeople produce traditional items during the festival. In their skilled hands, raw materials are turned into vivid and sophisticated creations. Visitors can participate in craft activities under instruction.
Be sure to make a reservation on the official WeChat account of the Xixi Wetland if you plan to pick persimmons during the National Day holiday.