Lantern Festival, or Yuánxiāo jié [元宵节], falls on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunisolar year in the lunar calendar and marks the last day of the lunar New Year celebration. During the Lantern Festival, children often go out at night to temples carrying paper lanterns and solve riddles on the lanterns.
But the most familiar sight is the millions of firecrackers and fireworks that are lit at the end of the two week long festivities. Of course one cannot fail to notice the many lanterns, red to symbolize good fortune, that are festooned all over towns across the country.
As well as letting off fireworks, many people celebrate with baijiu, a strong spirit made from sorghum, lavish meals and snacks.
One such snack is yuanxiao, or rice dumplings, thus the festival may also be referred to as the Yuanxiao Festival.
Yuanxiao [元宵] also has another name, tāngyuán [汤圆], which are small dumpling balls made of glutinous rice flour containing a filling of rose petals, sesame, bean paste, jujube paste, walnut paste or dried fruit.
As well as gorging themselves on dumplings people will also enjoy performances such as dragon lantern dances, lion dances, the beating of drums and other displays, all this as the first full moon enters the New Year and lights up the night sky.
With this year’s festival falling on Valentine’s Day, the first time in 19 years, many younger Chinese couples were also romancing their loved ones under the full moon. Indeed the main dilemma amongst some netizens was whether to celebrate with tangyuan or chocolate.
Valentine’s Day might not be a traditional festival, but it is fast becoming as popular as the many Chinese festivals that are celebrated each year across China. In fact due to the rare "dual holiday," in Hong Kong this year, twice as many couples - nearly 500 according to some reports - registered to be married on Valentine's Day as they did last year.
However you celebrated either festival, Oriental Skye wishes all our followers a great Year of the Horse.