For most Chinese people, 7 days Spring Festival holiday has been finished and we are already back to work now, but actually Spring Festival has not been ended. There will be held another big gala this Thursday, Feb. 17th, Yuan Xiao Festival (Lantern Festival), which is commonly considered as the happy ending for Spring Festival.
Chinese people celebrate the Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day of the first month according to Chinese lunar calendar. Literally, Yuan Xiao (元宵) means the full moon night on the first month of the year. Appreciating the moon is the common habit just next to the Mid-Autumn Festival. Differently, Lantern Festival is called lantern so “lantern” must play the major role.
Hand-held Paper Lantern 手(shǒu)提(tí)纸(zhǐ)灯(dēng)笼(long)
Lightening paper lantern is an old tradition in Lantern Festival, through the candle light inside the paper lantern; we prayed for the happiness in the New Year and excitedly walked around. It is such memorable experience in my childhood, nowadays the tradition remained in some areas especially countryside, but unfortunately less seen in cities full of neon lights. I love this old tradition, craftsmen made diversified hand-held colored lanterns of all kinds; flying Chinese lanterns, hanging lanterns. The paper lanterns are usually designed into various shapes of animals and flowers, representing good fortune. People in some place will set flying lanterns while some others prefer setting water lanterns.
Stroll in the Lantern Fair 逛(guàng)灯(dēng)会(huì)
Lantern Fair is a big event in Lantern Festival, usually held annually in many cities during Spring Festival Season. Parks or public square becomes an ocean of different shaped lanterns. Lanterns are designed according to subject of each animal year, so rabbit lanterns must own large popularity this lantern festival. Most people are used to visiting the lantern fair after their family supper, together appreciating the beautiful lanterns in display. Fireworks are often set off in the mean time, boosting the holiday atmosphere.
Eating Yuan Xiao (Sweet Dumplings) 吃(chī)元(yuán)宵(xiāo)
If you ask any Chinese what must be eaten on Lantern Festival Day, the answer will be the same, Sweet Dumplings 汤(tāng)圆(yuán). Eating Tang Yuan, which is small dumpling balls made of glutinous rice flour filling with sweet paste inside such as bean paste, jujube paste, sugar, walnuts, sesame, osmanthus flowers or rose petals, etc.
Today is western Valentine’s Day, but it is widely celebrated in cities of China, most shopping malls, cinemas and restaurants are full of lovers. In fact, traditionally Lantern Festival is also another version of Chinese Valentine’s Day(this traditional activity is gradually losing its romantic element), just imagine that one boy and one girl meet each other unexpectedly in the crowed lantern fair and fall in love later and then live happily ever after, hah. But most people omitted it and generally accepted the western way, only spend the Chinese version in Qixi Festival.
Lantern culture plays a significant role in traditional Chinese folklore, Sky Lantern(Kongming Lantern, 孔(kǒng)明(míng)灯(dēng)) and Floating Water Lantern （River Lantern, 河(hé)灯(dēng)）compose a harmonious match.