Chinese Lantern Festival

The first month of the Chinese lunar calendar is called yuan month, and in ancient times people called night xiao. On the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, it is the first night to see a full moon after the New Year. Thus, the day is called “Yuanxiao Festival” or “Shangyuan Festival”. According to Chinese tradition, at the very beginning of a new year, when there is a bright full moon hanging in the sky, there should be thousands of colorful lanterns hung out for people to appreciate. Also, Chinese people celebrate it as Lantern Festival. The date in the Western calendar changes annually; and in 2012, it falls on February 6.

Chinese Lantern Festival

Various lanterns displayed to greet Lantern Festival

Of course, for Lantern Festival, the displaying of lanterns is a major event at night. In the moonlight, lanterns with various colors, shapes, and sizes are hung in the streets. People walk at a leisurely pace, and appreciate the creativity of diverse lanterns. Children carry self-made or bought paper lanterns, and have fun with their family. “Guessing lantern riddles” is an essential part for lantern watching. The puzzles or riddles were written on a piece of paper and posted on the lanterns. If one can solve that puzzles, a little gift would be given.

And, Tangyuan, a traditional food for Lantern Festival, is eaten together with family. Its name has a similar pronunciation as the word for “reunion” in Chinese. In Northern China, it is also called “Yue Xiao”, which derives from the festival. The food is made from glutinous rice flour with stuffing in round shape. The difference between Tangyuan and Yuanxiao is the way they are made. People in north China make yuanxiao by rolling a hard stuffing in glutinous rice flour. In south China, tangyuan is prepared by placing the filling inside rice flour wrapping, similar to the making of jiaozi. The round shape of the balls and the bowls where they are served, come to symbolise the family togetherness.

Chinese Lantern Festival

Tang Yuan – Lucky food eaten on Lantern Festival

Besides, some performances would be staged in the daytime of the festival, like setting off fireworks, dragon dance, lion dance, land boat dance, yangge dance, and walking on stilts, etc.

For more infos about Lantern Festival, please follow this link:

https://www.easytourchina.com/fact-v354-the-lantern-festival

Chinese Winter Solstice Festival Falls on December 22, 2011

Dongzhi, literally “the Extreme of Winter”, is the 22nd one of 24 solar terms each year, and marks the winter solstice. It always comes around December 22 in Gregorian calendar. The day is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese and other East Asians.

Chinese Winter Solstice Festival

Chinese Winter Solstice Festival

In China, Dongzhi was originally celebrated as an end-of-harvest festival. Today, it is observed with a family reunion over the long night, also named “Chinese Thanksgiving”. Family members get together to drink mellow wine, eat delicate food, visit friends and relatives, exchange presents and host memorial ceremony for ancestors and Gods.

In the northern China, eating dumplings and wontons on Dongzhi means gaining positive energy and getting rid of negative power. Red bean porridge is welcomed in Shaanxi since it is considered effective to avoid ghosts and epidemic disease.

Chinese Winter Solstice Festival

People in Northern China eat dumplings.

Chinese Winter Solstice Festival

Wontons, food in Chinese Winter Solstice Festival

In the Southern China, especially in Zhejiang and Jiangsu Province, tangyuan is no exception on this specific day. Each family member receives at least one large tangyuan in addition to several small ones. The flour balls may be plain or stuffed. Tangyuan with stuff is used to honor the ancestors at night ceremony while tangyuan without stuff used to worship Gods in the morning ceremony. Also, there is a tradition eating long noodles in the hope of long life.

Chinese Winter Solstice Festival

Tangyuan, or balls of glutinuous rice, symbolizes reunion

About the origin of Winter Solstice Festival, please follow:
https://www.easytourchina.com/fact-v361-the-winter-solstice-festival