The springtime festival of Chinese New Year is the most significant cultural event in the Chinese calendar, and as such, some of the grandest Temple Fairs are usually held around this festive period.
One of the biggest Temple Fair attractions in Beijing is the Dongyue Temple Fair. Built in 1323, in the Yuan Dynasty, the Dongyue Temple was steadily expanded over the Ming and Qing dynasties (from 14th to 20th century). Today, the temple covers 60,000 square meters with more than 600 rooms and halls. Dedicated to the god of Mount Tai, Dongyue Temple is considered one of the largest Taoist temples in Northern China and is designated as a National Key Cultural Relics Unit.
TheDongyue Temple fair generally starts in late January and goes on till mid-February. It always starts with a blessing ceremony, since the fair’s theme is about seeking blessings. Attendees pray for good fortune for the coming year. The temple and grounds around it are decorated with the character 福 (Fu), which means ‘blessing’ in Mandarin. People can buy Fu cards to take blessing home with them. Since the temple is now a folk-customs museum, an extensive array of activities centred on this theme take place.
Some small traders and peddlers set up various stalls outside the temple selling joss sticks to burn and worship Buddha. Gradually the temple fair became a regular activity and is now a local folk custom in Beijing. Temple fairs are popular activities in many parts of China during the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration (Spring Festival).
The Spring Festival Temple fairs get to witness various artistic folk performances, rich tasty snacks of Beijing and the folk handicrafts are the most attractive points of this fair. The Yangge folk dance, stilt walkers, land boats, and lion dancers all pass by in front of your eyes; performing to the rhythm of the steel fork, tiger stick showing, and gong and drum beating. You may also buy clay, bristled figurines, dough figurines and paper-cuts, which are characteristic of local culture and Beijing charm. If you are lucky you may also find genuine Chinese antiques of fine quality at reasonable prices.
Find your nearest Asian Store