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                      Home History and Culture Temple Fair in Beijing
                      Temple Fair in Beijing
                      Learn Chinese - History and Culture

                      temple fair

                      The temple fair (miào huì 廟會) is a kind of social activity in China. Legend has it that it originated in ancient times when people offered sacrifices to the village god, which later gradually evolved into a marketplace for people to exchange products and a place for cultural performance. Temple fair in old China had a unique status in ordinary people’s life. It is the time to worship gods, pray for the blessing. It is also a great time to have fun. All the traditional shows went on at the temple fairs, talk shows (xiàng sheng 相聲), banner shows (wǔ qí 舞旗), kongfu shows (wǔ shù 武術), lion shows (wǔ shī 舞獅), etc. It became a paradise for the kids. Fortunately this century old tradition is still preserved today.

                      dough figurinesThe temple fair, usually on the open ground in or near a temple, is held on festive or specified days. Some are held only during the Spring Festival (chūn jié 春節). Although different places hold their temple fair at various dates, the contents are similar. Farmers and merchants sell their farm produce, local specialties, and antiques (gǔ wán 古玩), jade articles, flowers, birds and fish; craftsmen set up their stalls to show and sell their handicrafts (shǒu gōng yì pǐn 手工藝品) and specialty snacks (tè sè xiǎo chī 特色小吃); folk artists establish a stage for singing, dance, and quyi (Chinese folk art forms qǔ yì 曲藝, including ballad singing (mín?gē 民歌), story-telling (píng shū 評書), comic dialogues (xiǎo pǐn 小品), clapper talk (kuài bǎn 快板), cross talk (xiàng sheng 相聲), etc.) performance. Ordinary people come to the temple fair to buy and sell goods, watch the performances, and sample snacks, giving the temple fair a bustling atmosphere.

                      pinwheelBeijing's temple fair originated during the Liao Dynasty (liào dài 遼代 916-1125) and continued through several dynasties including the Yuan (yuán dài 元代 1271-1368), the Ming (míng dài 明代 1368-1644) and the Qing (qīng dài 清代 1644-1911). Because it begins around the temple, it is called the 'temple' fair. There were always some small traders and peddlers who set up various stalls outside the temple to earn money from people who came to the temple to burn joss sticks and worship Buddha. Gradually the temple fair became a regular activity and is now a local folk custom in Beijing.

                      traditional ceremonyThe temple fairs in Beijing may roughly be divided into three kinds: One is the monthly temple fair, during the later period of the monthly temple fairs the rural fair develops with many businesses and entertainment. There is also a temporary temple fair opened according to convention whenever there are traditional festivals or something related to sacrificial offering activities for Buddhism (fó jiào 佛教) or Taoism (dào jiào 道教). The characteristic of this kind of temple fair is that they are often held primarily for religious activities; however, some commodities and toys will be available for purchase, and folk entertainers put on performances. The third kind of temple fair is for multi-professions. In the past, many professions had a common practice of sacrificing offerings to their founders, once a year. Generally they hold the fair on the birthday of the founder of their own profession.

                      Now, Beijing holds temple fair every Spring Festival. Relatively famous temple fairs are those of the White Cloud Temple (bái yún guān 白云觀), the Altar of Earth (dì tán 地壇), Dragon Pool (lóng tán hú 龍潭湖) and the Temple of Intense Happiness (lóng fú sì 隆福寺). temple fairTemple fairs in Beijing have preserved many traditional customs, such as riding a monkey to stroll around the temple fair and throwing coins through the hole in the center of a copper coin in the White Cloud Temple. Many goods sold in the temple fair have typical northern features, such as toys like diabolo (kōng zhú 空竹), pinwheel (fēng chē 風車), knife (dāo 刀), spear (qiāng 槍), sword (jiàn 劍) and halberd (jǐ 戟); big sugarcoated haws on a stick and gruel of millet flour and sugar are widely popular among common people. Various artistic folk performances, rich tasty snacks of Beijing and the folk handicrafts are the most attractive points of this fair. The yangge (yāng gē 秧歌), stilts (cǎi gāo qiāo 踩高蹺), land boat (huá hàn chuan 劃旱船), lion dance (wǔ shī 舞獅) all pass by in front of your eyes; playing the steel fork, tiger stick showing, gong and drum beating… performing again and again for your enjoyment. You may also buy clay, bristled figurines (shuā máo yǒng 刷毛俑), dough figurines (miàn rén 面人) and paper-cuts (jiǎn zhǐ 剪紙), 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.


                      big sugarcoated haws on a stick

                      ????? 廟會是中國民間的一種社會活動,據說起源于古代的祭祀土地神,以后逐漸變成了一種民間物品交流的集市和文化表演的場所。

                      gruel of millet flour and sugar????? 廟會一般設在寺廟里和寺廟附近的空場上,在節日或規定的日子舉辦。有的只在每年春節期間舉辦。雖然各地舉辦廟會的時間不同,但基本內容都差不 多。廟會期間,農戶、商販帶來自己生產的農產品、土特產和從各處收集來的古玩玉器、花鳥魚蟲,到廟會上進行交易;各路手藝人設攤展賣民間工藝品和特色小 吃;民間藝人搭臺表演歌舞曲藝……逛廟會的老百姓喜氣洋洋地趕來買賣物品,觀看表演,品嘗小吃,真是熱鬧非常。?

                      ????? 現在,北京市每年春節都舉辦廟會。比較有名的有白云觀廟會、地壇廟會、龍潭湖廟會、隆福寺廟會等。北京的廟會保留了許多傳統習俗,像白云觀廟會的騎驢逛廟 會、打金錢眼等。廟會上出售的物品也很有北方特色,像空竹、風車、刀槍劍戟等玩具;冰糖葫蘆、茶湯等小吃,都深受老百姓歡迎。



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