|A bowl of Tangyuan|
The Chinese Lantern Festival (元宵節) is celebrated on Lunar calendar of January 15th each year, and traditionally ends the Chinese New Year period. In 2017 it falls on February 11. People usually take down all New Year decorations after the Lantern Festival. Since the Lantern Festival is also the first full moon night in the Lunar calendar, traditionally that means the return of spring and symbolizing the reunion of family. However, in the modern time, this is not a public holiday, so most people cannot celebrate it with their families.
The Lantern Festival can be traced back to 2,000 years ago. In the beginning of the Eastern Han Dynasty (東漢, 25–220 AD), Buddhist monks used to light lanterns in the temples to show respect to Buddha on the 15th day of the first lunar month. Emperor Ming of Han (漢明帝), an advocate of Buddhism, then ordered that all the temples, households, and royal palaces should also light lanterns on that evening.
This Buddhist lantern custom gradually became a grand festival among the regular people with fireworks, lion dances, food, a variety of different beautiful lantern styles with riddles written on lanterns for people to guess. Lighting lanterns has also become a way for people to pray for smooth futures and express their best wishes for their families.
The traditional food Chinese people eat to celebrate the Lantern Festival is tangyuan (湯圓), which could be best described as round sweet sticky rice balls, typically served in a round soup bowl. Over time, tangyuan has developed into many sizes, colors and can be filled or unfilled in the center.
Because of its symbolism of happiness and good union, tangyuan also has become a dessert course in Chinese wedding, Winter Solstice Festival (冬至) and any other celebratory occasions such as a party for a newborn.
The traditional lanterns are made of paper and painted by hand. I still remember when I was very young, I used to cry all the way home because the wind blew and ruined my paper lanterns (2-3 of them) on the night of the Lantern Festival.
Fortunately, thanks to the modern day high tech, we now enjoy lanterns and spectacular electric light shows with 3D art and drones.
Intel just set a new world record releasing 500 drones in the sky last November. If you were impressed with Intel's show, check out this spectacular show of 1,000 drones lighting up the night sky of the Lantern Festival in Guangzhou, China. The drones flew in various formations such as Chinese characters of Blessing (福), Lantern Festival, and the map of China. The performance set a Guinness World Record with the biggest number of drones involved, according to CCTV news.
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