Reporter's Diary: Spring Festival temple fairs in Beijing
By Jeff Moody
01:44

Temple fairs are as much a part of Spring Festival as dumplings and the Chinese New Year Gala. So, quite how I've managed to avoid them for three years, I don't know. Today I rectified that with a visit to Ditan Park, also known as the Temple of Earth, in northern Beijing.

I wasn't the only one. Thousands upon thousands of people flocked to the park. In fact, on the first day of the Year of the Pig, the temple recorded 180,000 visitors.

Visitors are seen at Ditan Park in Beijing, China. /CGTN Photo

Visitors are seen at Ditan Park in Beijing, China. /CGTN Photo

And here lies the problem. When you are floating in a sea of people, it's very difficult to enjoy the experience, which is a shame because there's a lot here to enjoy.  Lion and dragon dances, stilt walkers, food stalls galore, interactive activities... it's all here for the taking.

Of course, this is far removed from the original purpose of the event. 

Weifeng gong-and-drum performances are featured on the temple fair at Ditan Park in Beijing. /CGTN Photo

Weifeng gong-and-drum performances are featured on the temple fair at Ditan Park in Beijing. /CGTN Photo

When Ditan Park first opened its doors to a temple fair 30 years ago, the event was very much a spiritual one – giving thanks to the God of the Earth.

At the start of spring, as farmers plant seeds and hope for a bumper harvest, it's a good time to keep on the right side of the God of the Earth.

But now, of course, the God of the Earth is taking a back seat to the Great God of Commercialism.

CGTN's Jeff Moody hosts a live stream at Ditan Park. /CGTN Photo

CGTN's Jeff Moody hosts a live stream at Ditan Park. /CGTN Photo

Some mourn the passing of the true temple fairs... for the elderly, just a distant memory of Spring Festivals gone by.

But for the new generation, with their selfies and WeChat, souvenir hunting and munching on good food are as spiritual as anything else.