Festivals are occasions for celebration. They are a universal element in all cultures across the world. In China, you can find an ancient Chinese poem for every festival. For example, for the joyful Spring Festival, there is Chinese New Year’s Day by Wang Anshi: “The year departs amid the sound of fireworks, and a warm breeze helps to ferment the wine. When the light of dawn shines upon thousands of homes, every family puts up New Year couplets.” It is a poem depicting the festive scenes that mark the celebrations of the Chinese New Year. This book is a collection of 300 ancient Chinese poems about 11 traditional festivals, including the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year’s Eve), Renri (Human Day), Lantern Festival, Shangsi Festival (Double Third Festival), Hanshi Festival (Cold Food Festival), Qingming Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Zhongyuan Day (Ghost Festival), Mid-Autumn Festival, Double Ninth Festival, and Laba Festival. This collection spans more than 2,000 years from the time depicted by the Book of Songs to the end of the Qing Dynasty. The poems concerning each festival are arranged in the order of siyan (four characters per line), wuyan (five characters per line), qiyan (seven characters per line), ci, and qu. Each poem is accompanied by a commentary (or explanations) and annotations. If you are interested in classical poetry and traditional festivals of China, this will be the perfect read for you.
Gerhart Hauptmann compares ancient poetry to echoes from the ancient times. These poems are not just about festivals. They also reflect the poets’ personal emotions and feelings toward their family and country. Just like wines, festivals also evolve over time.