The Lantern Festival (or Yuan Xiao Festival in Chinese) is a traditional Chinese festival with great significance, which is on the 15th of the first lunar month, marking the end of New Year celebrations. During the Lantern Festival, children go out at night carrying paper lanterns and solve riddles on the lanterns.
Here are some things you should know about the Lantern Festival.
A sea of lanterns
The biggest attraction of the Lantern Festival is the sea of lanterns in every conceivable size and shape. This is a festival for people to have fun. At night, people go into the streets with a variety of lanterns under the full moon and watch the lion or dragon dance, try to solve Chinese riddles and play games, enjoy typical food called Yuan Xiao and set off firecrackers. There is really a lot of fun for the young and the old.
Eating small dumpling balls
Just as the name implies, an important part of the Lantern Festival, or Yuan Xiao Festival, is to eat small dumpling balls made of glutinous rice flour. We call these balls Yuan Xiao, or Tang Yuan. Obviously, they get the name from the festival itself. Made of sticky rice flour filled with sweet or salty stuffing and round in shape, the dumpling symbolizes family unity, completeness and happiness. Sweet fillings are made of sugar, walnuts, sesame, osmanthus flowers, rose petals, sweetened tangerine peel, bean paste or jujube paste. A single ingredient or any combination can be used as the filling. The salty variety is filled with minced meat, vegetables or a mixture of both.
Guessing lantern riddles
When it comes to the Lantern Festival, “Guessing lantern riddles” is an essential component. Lantern owners will write riddles on a piece of paper and post them on the lanterns in advance. If visitors can answer the riddles, they can just pull the paper out and go to the lantern owners to check their answers. If they are right, they will get a little gift. The activity emerged during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). As riddle guessing is interesting and full of wisdom, it has become popular among all social strata.
At night, in addition to magnificent lighted lanterns, fireworks form a grand scene. Most families save some fireworks from the Spring Festival and set them off during the Lantern Festival. Some local governments will even organize a fireworks party. On the night when the first full moon enters the New Year, people become really intoxicated by the imposing fireworks and bright moon in the sky.
The dragon dance, a form of traditional dance and performance in Chinese culture, is often seen in some festival celebrations. The dance is performed by a team of dancers who manipulate a long flexible figure of a dragon using poles positioned at regular intervals along the length of the dragon. The dance team mimics the supposed movements of this river spirit in a sinuous, undulating manner. Chinese dragons are a symbol of China, and they are believed to bring good luck to people, therefore the longer the dragon in the dance, the more luck it will bring to the community.
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