Happy New Year of the Tiger!
How has your Chinese New Year holiday been? I hope you had a great fun experiencing Chinese culture to the full! Today is Lantern Festival 元宵节 (Yuánxiāo Jié). It lies on the 15th day of the new lunar year, which is Feb 15th this year. 元宵节 marks the final day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations.
In this article, I would love to share some interesting knowledge of 元宵节 with you.
What does 元宵 mean exactly?
Your first impression of 元宵 might be the white, round and sweet rice balls that you tried in a Chinese restaurant
Yes! Chinese Northerners call this Lantern Festival specialty 元宵. Actually 元宵 has another meaning.
How was 元宵节 originated?
About how 元宵节 was originated, there are many different stories since ancient times. Here I would like to share two famous ones with you.
Ruling the beginning of the Eastern Han Dynasty, Emperor Hanmingdi was a loyal Buddhist believer. He heard that some monks light up lanterns in their temples to conquer darkness and show respect to Buddha on the 15th day of the first lunar month. He decided to do the same. Therefore, he stipulate that all the temples and houses should light up lanterns on that evening. This Buddhist custom gradually became a folk custom in China and a permanent festival for all the Chinese people.
How do Chinese celebrate 元宵节？
So what do Chinese people do to celebrate 元宵节? Let's check out the customs one by one!
You will be able to see many beautiful lanterns during the festival, easpecially if you go to lantern shows. Apart from creating the warm festive atmosphere, Chinese people like lanterns bacause of its good implication. In Chinese, "灯/dēng/lantern" sounds like "丁/dīng/number of people". So lighting up lanterns symbolizes adding more people into the family. Also, lanterns represent brighteness and happiness in Chinese culture. Generally, all the good wishes are in this one little lantern.
During 元宵节, ancient Chinese people like to write riddles on the red paper and paste them on colorful lanterns for people to solve.
3. Enjoy watching lion dances
Lion dance is commonly performed during 元宵节 as Chinese people believe that it can bring them good luck and fortune. It's very similar to a dragon dance but lion dance is normally operated by only two dancers instead of a bunch of people, one of whom manipulates the head while the other is controlling the tail of the lion. The fundamental movements in lion dance can be found in Chinese martial arts, and it is commonly performed to a vigorous drum beat.
元宵/yuánxiāo VS 汤圆/tāngyuán
You might be confused that some people call the rice ball 元宵and some call that 汤圆. What is the difference between them?
Every year on Lantern Festival, there is a bustle on Chinese internet comparing 汤圆 and 元宵, as this is one of issues about North - South rivlalry in China. Have you tried both of them? Which one do you prefer? 元宵 or 汤圆?
Another Chinese Valentine's Day?
【A.D. 1140 - 1207】Xin Qiji
One night's east wind adorns a thousandtrees with flowers,
And blows down stars in showers.
Fine steeds and carved cabs spread fragrance en route.
Music vibrates from the flute,
The moon sheds its full light,
While fish and dragon lanterns dance all night.
In gold-thread dress, with moth or willow ornaments,
Giggling, she melts into the throng with trails of scents.
But in the crowd once and again,
look for her in vain.
When all at once I turn my head,
I find her there where lantern light is dimly shed.
(Translated by Xu Yuanchong)
(All the pictures are from the Internet)
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