On the sixteenth day of the first month of lunar year, the Foshan residents will celebrate the custom of "walking over Tongji to celebrate Yuanxiao". This ancient custom has a long history in Foshan. The Foshan people use the festival to express their wishes in this way.
At the south of Chancheng District, where the Nanpu Park is located nowadays, there was a river named Tongji River, over which was a bridge called "Tongji Bridge". Nowadays the river is no longer there, but the bridge is still there. At this day each year, crowds of people will walk over the bridge to burn incense, throw vegetable and play windmill.
"Walking Across Tongji" started from Qing Dynasty, prosperous in Qianlong period. According the "Foshan Loyal Village Record" published in 1923: "on the Fifteenth Night of the first month of the New Year), the whole street is covered with lanterns. … Since Spring Festival, the people from other villages will come to buy lanterns. Crowds of people holding lanterns go to the Tongji Bridge, one following the other. If you go to the Sheng Gate (now the gate head) and have look, you will see people holding lanterns everywhere."
Foshan people believe that "walking on Tongji will have no worry". In China, for the "Yuanxiao Festival" on the fifteenth day of the first month of lunar year, besides the celebrating acitivities, there are also religious activities, such as "driving illness", which is also called "baking illness" and "dispelling illness". The participants are mostly the women, who walk together along the walls or over the bridge to the suburb to drive the illness. Foshan people's "Walking Across Tongji" custom is estimated to result from this practice on "Yuanxiao Festival". At that time there was no road lamb in Foshan, the residents had to carry lantern for lighting when they walked from Pujun Fair to Tongji Bridge to "Celebrate Yuanxiao".
As time passes, the ancient custom of "walking over Tongji to celebrate Yuanxiao" is gradually endowed with modern color and new meaning, namely "walking over Tongji to do good things". This new form brings useful inspiration to development of Foshan traditional culture. In fact, through the ancient custom of "Walking Over Tongji" with new meaning, we have seen the Foshan people's aspiration toward good live and Foshan people's confidence and determination to build good future.