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Lantern Festival

Lantern Festival (Chinese:元宵节), or Yuan Xiao Festival in Chinese, falls on the 15th day of the lunar New Year, which is also the last day but the peak of the Spring Festival. Lantern Festival can be traced back to Western Han Dynasty (207BC- 25AD), about 2000 years ago. The customs of Lantern Festival may slightly different across the country, but generally, eat Yuan Xiao, enjoy festive lanterns, guess lantern riddles, set off firecrackers and fireworks, watch dragon dancing and lion dancing are the main activities.

Yuan Xiao (Chinese:元宵) is a traditional food for Lantern Festival, which is also called as Tang Yuan (Chinese:汤圆) in southern areas. It is a kind of dessert made of glutinous rice flour; fillings are normally the sesame and peanuts, sometimes also the vegetable or meat. It is made into round as round symbolizes the wholeness and unity in Chinese.

Just as its name implies, lanterns are the most featured items for Lantern Festivals. Red lanterns and colorful lanterns are hanged everywhere on windows, gates, shops, trees and the streets. In the evening of the fesival, people carry their own lanterns through the streets to join in the carnival with kinds of performances such as lion dance and dragon dance, and fireworks. In the past, people made lanterns themselves in various shapes and colors; and popular patterns are butterflies, dragons, flowers and birds, with the dominant common red spherical lanterns. Today, most people do not make lanterns themselves, as a variety of lanterns can be found in the market. Guessing lantern riddles is a popular and interesting game; it is indispensable that lantern owners past their riddles on lanterns, and people who can get the right answers will be reward with a little gift. As a matter of fact, Lantern Festival is a traditional Chinese Valentine’s Day from the start of its celebration; it is because that young people are the main force of the lanterns’ night and romances happen frequently during the festival; and those have lovers also secretly met each other at this populous night as free love is often forbidden in ancient Chinese families.