The Ultimate List of East Asian Festivals for your Bucket List

Welcome to my list of the major festivals and holidays celebrated across Northeast Asia- Japan, North and South Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and Mongolia. This will be a continuously updated list as I keep exploring new and interesting festivals that have evolved in the East Asian cultural sphere, also known as Sinosphere (including Vietnam) because they are all historically influenced by Chinese culture.*

Consider adding some of these to your bucket list and I’m sure you’ll never regret the effort to cover them all!

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NOTE: Celebrating some of these festivals usually requires physically being in the country. If travelling that far is impossible, see if you can get to your local Chinatown or East Asian neighborhood on the date of the festival.


Chinese New Year (Spring Festival 春节, Seollal in Korea, ) is celebrated across the world by Chinese diaspora. In 2014 it will be celebrated on January 31 and the final day occurring on February 15- see the Lantern Festival below. This is the most exciting festival I’ve ever experienced. It feels like American 4th of July but more dangerous! Get a more detailed overview on this amazing festival here.

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East Asia’s Culture of Learning and Higher Test Scores

A Culture of Learning
A Culture of Learning

In reaction to the recent PISA 2012 results, this week’s panel GPS with Fareed Zakaria discussed the educational leg up that East Asian countries seem to have over American education. His guests included Sal Khan (Khan Academy), Tom Friedman (New York Times author), Wendy Kopp (Teach for America), and Arnie Duncan (US Education Secretary). The discussion was dominated by a sense of ‘those guys got it right’ which unfortunately is not the over-arching reason for China’s higher test scores, in my opinion. Let me explain…

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Will Students still come to America after PISA 2012?

Chart courtesy of

After American 15-year-olds scored 36th overall on the global Reading, Math, and Science test, will parents continue to send their students to study in America? Test-obsessed parts of the globe may look at the 2012 results of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and determine that our K-12 education does not compare to theirs. Or parents might not care and just send their kids to America anyway. (We’ve still got the highest ranked universities in the world…)

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Does your Body Reward you?

Yumm, breakfast!

One week ago I moved into a house with roommates in Somerville, Massachusetts. In that first week of transition I had a lot on my plate, so I did what most temporarily scattered people would do – eat shitty food. I ate plain ramen, peanut butter bread, cheese on toast, dunkin donuts sandwiches, rotisserie chicken from Shaws… barely any vegetables or fruit. I also exercised very little… maybe a few push-ups and sit-ups. I wasn’t depressed but I felt like I was just… existing.

But today, I feel like a million bucks. Here’s what happened…

Yesterday morning I was having my peanut butter on toast with banana slices when one of my roommates explained why he makes fruit smoothies every morning. “I eat fruit only in the morning.” he said. “It’s actually really good for you and the body breaks it down quickly, which in turn gives you a lot more energy to burn.”

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“No politics on Thanksgiving”…

Who is right?…No one.

Thanksgiving is a special time when family reunite for great food and awesome desserts. But it wouldn’t be a normal family gathering without some passionate political rhetoric. And after the turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, cheddar broccoli, maple carrots, and biscuits, who wouldn’t grab at the opportunity to burn some calories by cursing your ideological foes vis-à-vis your loved ones?

Then gram gram chimes in: “No politics on Thanksgiving!” But she already knows… It’s too late to stop it, gram gram.
This crazy train has left the terminal!

But dear reader, AL.ME is not a place for hard-line party politics and I don’t intend to explain why ‘merica has become a communist, totalitarian state run by a Muslim… (no, I’ll save the “truth” for my other blog.) But honestly, listen closely, I have some shocking news to share with you…

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About Asianliving

Thanks for stopping by Ben's blog about culture, health, and travel from his experiences across Asia.

To get in touch, please email: ben[at]asianliving[dot]me.

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