The informant is my high school friend (referred to as LM) who is American and lived in China for 4 years (2 during high school and 2 after high school). She lived with a Chinese host family and then lived on her own in Beijing for 2 years. I asked her what one of the favorite experiences she had in China was and she explained this festival.
LM: “There was this temple fair that is a festival kind of and definitely a really fun social activity. The temple fair I went to took place when I was living in Beijing and it’s always around Chinese New Year. So basically I went to one called the Ditan Temple Fair. The temple fairs are all usually on the open ground in or near the temple. Some are held only during the Spring Festival. Although there are a bunch of different fairs, they are all kind of the same thing.
Farmers and merchants sell their produce and antiques and stuff. It is almost like a flea market and you can always barter. There is a lot of jade out and there are always fresh flowers. Snacks are made and people sing and dance and there’s even storytelling going on. It’s a lot going on and it’s really fun. Most people are out and buying things or just watching the performances.”
Hearing about this festival seems very communal and interactive. In comparison to many other festival events and new years that seem to be less religious or less structured. It is obviously sacred because it is done outside of festivals, but it seems like a very free and relaxed experience.