March 3 Festival is also called Shangsi Festival. Shangsi is the first siri of March in the lunar calendar. It was a festival to ward off misfortunes and pray for blessings in ancient China. On that day, the ancients would go to the waterside to play games, take a bath, or pick orchid flowers in the hope of driving away misfortunes and praying for blessings. Called xiuxi, or chunxi, the activity was held early in the Zhou Dynasty. In the Han Dynasty, it was officially prescribed as a festival celebrated on Shangsi of March. At the Three Kingdoms Period, the festival was stipulated to be held on March 3 of the lunar calendar. Later, the festival was continuously evolved, and the custom of feasting guests on the waterside was formed.
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Renri Human Race Day

The Shangsi Festival is also called Renri (Human Race Day), which is a traditional festival. Legend has it that Nvwa created seven animal species in seven days. According to the order of the lunar calendar, the first day the rooster was created, followed by dog, sheep, pig, cattle, horse, and the human race was created on the seventh day. Calculated by the order of Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches, the Shangsi Festival is also renri. A way to commemorate renri is to eat Qibao Geng, namely, a dish made of seven kinds of vegetables. Besides, a human figure made of five-color fabric or engraved by gold foil is usually hung on the folding screen or mosquito net to pray for auspiciousness.
Floating a Wine Cup along Winding Water is derived from the Shangsi Festival. After the ceremony of offering sacrifice to the gods at the waterside, people would sit at both sides of it. A wine cup would be placed upriver and carried down along with the stream. The one having the cup stopped before him had to drink the wine, which amused them a lot, hence the name Floating a Wine Cup along Winding Water.
Wang Xizhi, a great calligrapher in ancient China, held a party at the Orchid Pavilion in 353 A.D., which is most famous among all the activities of Floating a Wine Cup along Winding Water in the history. After that, Wang Xizhi collected the poems improvised during the activity and made a preface to it, which is known as the famous the first running script under the sun - Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion.

Thanks to it, Wang Xizhi has also been credited as Sage of Calligraphy. In Shaoxing, the custom has also been popular for the past thousand years.

Horizontal scroll of the Painting of the Orchid Pavilion Gathering

Painted by Wen Zhengming in 1542 A.D.; Ink and color on gold paper; length: 24.2 cm; width: 60.1 cm
This painting reflects the scene described in the Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion by Wang Xizhi in the Eastern Jin Dynasty.

Winding Water Feast in Japan

The ancient Chinese activity of Floating a Wine Cup along Winding Water was also introduced to Japan. Way back in 958 A.D., people in Fukuoka of Japan had followed our activity and held a feast at the riverside. This activity there was quite grand and those attending the feast would put on archaized costumes to offer sacrifice to the gods and have Miko Kagura dance. After that, they would hold the activity of Floating a Wine Cup along the Winding Water. The custom has been handed down up to the present.

Make a Sacrifice to Gao Mei

Among the activities held on the Shangsi Festival, the most important one is to sacrifice Gao Mei, who is the Goddess of Marriage and Childbearing. People would pray her for childbearing through sacrificial rituals. It was believed to cure women's infertility.

Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion

Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion. Calligraphers of all dynasties credit it as the first running script under the sun.
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Orchid Pavillion

The orchid pavilion is located in the southwest of the outskirts of Shaoxing. King Goujian of the Spring and Autumn Period once planted orchid plants here and in the Han dynasty a dak pavilion was built, hence the name Orchid Pavilion. As Wang Xizhi wrote Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion here, it also became the Holy Land of Calligraphy.
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