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元宵节快乐 Happy Lantern Day


The Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month, usually in February or March in the Gregorian calendar. As early as the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 25), it had become a festival with great significance. 元宵节是在阴历的元月15号,通常在阳历的二月或者三月。早在西汉时期(公元前206年-公元25年)元宵节就已经成为具有重要意义的节日。 This day's important activity is watching lanterns. Throughout the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), Buddhism flourished in China. One emperor heard that Buddhist monks would watch sarira, or remains from the cremation of Buddha's body, and light lanterns to worship Buddha on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month, so he ordered to light lanterns in the imperial palace and temples to show respect to Buddha on this day. Later, the Buddhist rite developed into a grandfestival among common people and its influence expanded from the Central Plains to the whole of China.


The lanterns


The lanterns come in all shapes and sizes. Some are created in the form of animals, insects, flowers, people or even machines or buildings. Others depict scenes from popular stories teaching filial piety and traditional values. A favourite subject is the zodiac animal of the year - which in 2014 will be the horse.


Lantern riddles (cai deng mi)猜灯谜

Part of the lantern festival tradition involves a game to guess riddles attached to the lanterns. In the old days the riddles were obscure literary allusions to the Chinese classics and so were mainly the preserve of the educated classes.


Special foods特色小吃

Like most Chinese festivals, the Lantern Festival has its own special food, called "tang yuan". These are round, glutinous rice dumplings with sweet or spicy fillings. The dumplings are said to symbolise both the first full moon and family unity and completeness.



Stilt-walking, drumming and dragon and lion dancing are all traditional forms of festival entertainment. In Asia, it is not uncommon to see processions of hundred-foot long dragons, lit with flashing eyes and luminous bodies, accompanied by pounding drums, cymbals and brass instruments.



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