|The Olympics served as a theme for everything in 2008. The Olympic mascots, the Fuwa, appeared in almost every public place, and here they are the center piece of the entry decorations for the Longtan Park Temple Fair.
Longtan Lake Park 龙潭湖公园 (Lóngtánhú Gōngyuán) would be Dragon Pool Lake Park in English. It is a large park southeast of Tiananmen Square in Chaoyang District. The major attraction is the lake, at least in summer.
The temple fairs are held during Spring Festival. Their traditions go back to the Han dynasty, at least. The celebration of Spring Festival would be marked by sacrifices by the Emperor, but also by observances in the temples by Daoist and then later, Buddhist monks. They held fairs with processions, ceremonies, and lots of incense. With the gathering of people, as happens all over the world, merchants would also come to sell food and wares.
As a festival and celebration, special foods would make an appearance. There would have been merchants selling traditional paper offerings for the gods, and those who made toys, religious symbols, and special decorations would find a ready market. The same pattern was found in church and mosque fairs in other parts of the world.
Today, the temple fair has different items, many mass produced, many of the same foods but also modern treats, and lots of toys for children. The traditional beliefs are represented in decorations and symbols of luck and good fortune. At temples the religious aspect is still a major part of the celebrations, but at public parks, pinwheels and barbeque on a stick set the tone.
Spring Festival lasts two weeks, but many of the temple fairs are limited to a week. In some places the fair melds into the Lantern Festival which marks the end of Spring Festival season.
Last update: August 2009
© Marilyn Shea, 2009