Asia is a continent full of colorful celebrations and festivals. These events are often based on the lunar calendar, which means they’re not always on the same day every year. Some are religious while others are purely secular; some are celebrated by one culture while others are shared across entire countries or even regions. Here’s a list of 16 of these most iconic Asian celebrations:
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is the most important festival for the Chinese, and it’s celebrated on the first day of the new year. It’s also called Lunar New Year because it takes place according to a lunar calendar, which means that its date varies each year (the next one will be celebrated in 2020).
The holiday marks the beginning of spring and is a time for family and friends to get together–it’s not uncommon for people who don’t live near each other to travel long distances just so they can celebrate with their loved ones!
Deepavali is one of the most popular festivals in India. It celebrates the victory of good over evil, and it is also known as Diwali or “the festival of lights.”
It marks the Hindu New Year and commemorates Rama’s return to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana, his enemy king who kidnapped Rama’s wife Sita. Deepavali symbolizes Rama’s victory over darkness with light through firecrackers and lamps (or diyas).
Eid ul-Fitr is a Muslim holiday that celebrates the end of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It lasts for three days and marks the first day of Shawwal, which is considered to be one of two sacred months in Islam (the other being Rajab).
In many places around the world, Eid ul-Fitr brings out neighborhoods into public spaces such as parks or city squares where they hold large celebrations with food vendors selling treats like baklava or sweetened milk balls called kulfi. Children also enjoy playing games such as marbles while adults visit friends and family members who they haven’t seen since Ramadan began earlier this year.
Galungan and Kuningan
The Baliem Valley, in central Papua New Guinea, is home to the Dani people. This remote tribe has been isolated from modern society for thousands of years and they have their own unique culture and traditions. One such tradition is Galungan, a celebration held every 210 days (about every six months) that honors their ancestors and celebrates the victory of good over evil. During this time, celebrations include parades with music and dance performances honoring the dead or recently deceased loved ones who are believed to return during this time period.
Christmas in Bali
The Balinese have their own way of celebrating Christmas. It’s a time for family and friends, charity, celebration and giving gifts. The island goes all out with decorations on every corner, as well as festive clothing worn by everyone from kids to adults. There are even parades where people dance in traditional dress while riding on ornate floats that depict scenes from the Bible or other religious stories!
Purnima or Holi on the Beach
Holi is a Hindu festival of colors that is celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu calendar month Phalguna (March/April). It’s also known as the festival of colors, but you might know it better by its other names: Holika Dahan (burning of Holika), Kama Dahan (“fire” meaning “desire”), or Gulal Utsav (“red powder celebration”).
The festival originated in North India and has since spread across the country and beyond. In India alone, over 100 million people celebrate Holi each year by throwing colored powders at each other and bathing in water sprinklers. Other activities include singing songs, dancing around bonfires (upaasna), eating sweets–and yes! throwing water balloons at one another too!
Vesak Day or Buddha’s Birthday
Vesak Day or Buddha’s Birthday is a Buddhist festival that celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. The holiday takes place on the first full moon day in May and lasts three days, during which time Buddhists visit temples and give alms to monks. This celebration also commemorates other important events in Buddha’s life:
Celebrates his birth
Celebrates his enlightenment (when he became enlightened)
Celebrates his passing away from this worldThe celebration begins with an offering made to the Triple Gem – Buddha himself, his teachings (the Dharma) and community (the Sangha). This ritual is known as “Visakha Puja” meaning “worshiping Vishakha” who was one of seven sisters called ‘Brahmajanis’ who were followers of Buddha himself!
San Juan Festival (Philippines)
The San Juan Festival is a celebration of the birth of John the Baptist. It takes place on June 24, and it’s celebrated with parades and street dancing, as well as plenty of food and drink.
The Philippines has many patron saints who are considered to be protectors or patrons of certain professions or activities. The patron saints of farmers and fishermen are San Isidro (May 15) and San Juan Bautista (June 24).
Diwali, also known as the festival of lights and Deepavali, is an important Hindu holiday that’s celebrated in October or November. It marks the victory of good over evil and signifies a new beginning for everyone.
The five-day festival begins with Holika Dahan–the burning of an effigy representing the demon Hiranyakashipu (or Hiranyaksha) who was killed by Vishnu during his incarnation as Narasimha (the half-lion half-man avatar). On the second day, Hindus light candles or oil lamps called diyas to welcome Lakshmi–the goddess of wealth and prosperity–into their homes. On each subsequent day there are other rituals such as bathing statues at temples or donating food items like sweets to charity organizations so that one can receive blessings from Lakshmi throughout the year.
Songkran, the Thai New Year, is celebrated in Thailand on April 13-15. It’s a time to celebrate the new year by washing away bad luck from the previous year and welcoming good fortune into your life. To do this people throw water at each other (and sometimes with buckets) while wearing white clothes as if they’re getting married!
The festivities also include dancing in the streets and visiting friends and family–it’s an opportunity for everyone to come together as one big happy family!
Samjinnal Festival (Japan)
The Samjinnal Festival is a Buddhist celebration that celebrates the birth of Buddha. It takes place on May 28th, which corresponds to the fifth day of the fifth month in the lunar calendar.
The festival begins with people lighting lanterns and floating them down a river or lake. The lanterns represent enlightenment and good fortune for everyone who sees them on their journey towards the sea. People also visit temples during this time to pray for good fortune in their lives, as well as ask Buddha to help them overcome obstacles or sicknesses they may be experiencing at home or work (and if you’re anything like me when it comes to taking care of yourself properly before getting sick…you’ll appreciate this!).
Lantern Festival (China and Taiwan)
The Lantern Festival is a Chinese festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month of the lunar calendar. It is also known as Yuan Xiao Jie or Yuan Xiao Festival, and it marks one of the most important traditional holidays in China.
The festival originated from ancient times when people would light lanterns during this time to guide their ancestors back from heaven so they could visit with family members again. Today, many people still light paper lanterns and place them outside their homes to honor loved ones who have passed away or celebrate togetherness during this special time of year.
Asia is full of colorful festivals.
Asia is full of colorful festivals. These are the most iconic celebrations in Asia, and they’re a great way to experience the local culture. They’re fun for all ages and an opportunity to dress up in traditional clothing, get into the spirit of the celebration and make some great memories!
We hope you enjoyed this list of the most iconic Asian celebrations. With so many festivals to choose from, we’re sure there are some that didn’t make our list but are still worth checking out. If you have any questions about our research methods or findings, please contact us at [email protected]