Spring Festival reliving ancient customs and bridging a generation gap
Zhejiang locals celebrate the Chinese New Year through a series of multifarious ceremonies and customs. Ancient folklore has managed to retain these celebrations throughout the years, which acts as spiritual wealth for the local natives, and plays a big part in bridging the gap between generations.
Times and society may change but going back home and spending the Spring Festival with the family is a perfect way to ease homesickness and nostalgia.
Shanghai Daily offers several suggestions of popular destinations in Zhejiang Province in the Lunar New Year, as well as suggestions of where to experience authentic celebrations and customs and sample delectable food.
Hengdian Town 横店
Hengdian Town is the largest film-shooting base in Asia and is known as “Oriental Hollywood.” With its extraordinary scenery, the area has become one of the hottest tourist sites in Zhejiang Province.
The filmmaking industry has always influenced locals’ celebrations for the Chinese New Year. From the first day to the 15th day of the first lunar month, three temple fairs will be hosted in the town, providing people with a magnificent extravaganza.
The first temple fair is set up in the replica buildings of the Forbidden City. A float parade will present classic scenarios from TV soaps. Performers dressed in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) costumes act out royal life and it takes people back hundreds of years.
The second temple fair will be held in the Imperial Palace of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC).
The highlight is the delicacy from Xi’an of Shaanxi Province, which was the capital of that dynasty.
The last temple fair will appear in Meng Huan Gu, where streets and houses resemble the classical water towns of the Jiangnan region (south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River). Thousands of lanterns will decorate the area and present the auspicious vibe of the Chinese New Year.
Traditional activities like shadow play, stilt walking, dragon dance and acrobatic, and conventional food, including osmanthus candies, dragon’s beard candies and tanghulu (hawthorn fruits covered in hard candy on a skewer) will definitely ease people’s nostalgia for childhood.
How to get there: S2 Expressway — G60 Expressway — G26 Expressway — get off at the Hengdian Exit
Wuyi County 武义
Wuyi County is known for its abundance of hot spring resources. For locals, having a soothing, hot soak in spring water is one of the most relaxing ways to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
The county produces 2,415 tons of hot water daily, at temperatures ranging from 36 to 45 degrees Celsius. Compared with its counterparts, the hot spring water features a neutral PH value of 7 to 8, containing more than 20 mineral fluorites, and taking on a slight greenish-blue hue due to the minerals.
Popular hot springs in the county include Wuyi Clear Water Bay Hot Spring Resort and Wuyi Tang Style Hot Spring Resort. From the first to the 15th day of the first lunar month, the two resorts will host hot spring temple fairs, including sea lion performances, a doodle competition and a lucky draw.
Accommodation and food are available in both resorts but remember to bring your own swimsuit. Both resorts also have public changing rooms. After having a hot soak, travelers may want to explore Wuyi’s signature dish — tofu — in Sangang Town. Through February 15, a tofu festival is well underway in the town.
The tradition of making tofu has been preserved for more than two millennia in Sangang. Today, residents still use the original tools, secret recipes and millennia-old preparation techniques to produce authentic Wuyi-style tofu. The soybeans grow in the hills and get moisture from the mist all year around, which ensures a mellow taste and succulent texture. Meanwhile, sweetish mountain spring water from a creek is used as an ingredient, endowing the food with abundant minerals.
Every year, the tofu festival attracts swarms of gastronomes from Zhejiang Province. Not only can tourists buy tofu from shops, street hawkers and restaurants, they can also sample conventional tofu banquets in family-run guesthouses. Varied dishes are cooked according to local culinary methods and are made of varied soya bean products.
How to get there: S2 Expressway — G60 Expressway — G25 Expressway — get off at the Wuyi Exit
Zhuji City 诸暨
Nothing is more important to the natives than savoring scrumptious Zhuji food during the Spring Festival. Some farmhouses provide local-style Lunar New Year meals, and their picturesque environment makes them popular with foodies.
In Jinwan Village of Lingbei Town, farmhouses serve local treats, salted chicken and attract throngs of gastronomes during this time of every year.
To ensure the flavors, natives only use the Xianju chicken, which lays eggs frequently, while its meat is tender and juicy as it contains high protein and low fat. It has a smooth texture when pickled with salt and baked with other condiments.
People love the dish because a chicken that has been raised for a whole year is at its meatiest, and therefore tastiest, in winter.
The poultry needs little processing, only boiling. But because it is easy, quality ingredients and correct timing are vital.
Wrap the chicken with layers of salt. The plain seasoning helps remain the original taste and nutrient of the Xianju chicken. Instead of cooking over a modern stove, locals use a traditional clay-piled stove and firewood, which is believed to maintain the natural taste and prevent the loss of nutrients.
In winter, the salted chicken is such a ceremonious cold dish and it usually symbolizes the meal is big and the oncoming entrees are going to be equally nice, too.
How to get there: S2 Expressway — G60 Expressway — get off at the Zhuji Exit