民间庙会 Folk Temple Fair
The temple fair 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.
The 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. 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, jade articles, flowers, birds and fish; craftsmen set up their stalls to show and sell their handicrafts and specialty snacks; folk artists establish a stage for singing, dance, and quyi (Chinese folk art forms, including ballad singing, story telling, comic dialogues, clapper talk, cross talk, 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.
Now, Beijing holds temple fair every Spring Festival. Relatively famous temple fairs are those of the White Cloud Temple, the Altar of Earth, Dragon Pool and the Temple of Intense Happiness. Temple 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, pinwheel, knife, spear, sword and halberd; big sugarcoated haws on a stick and gruel of millet flour and sugar are widely popular among common people.