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元宵节 The Lantern Festival

元宵节 The Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival (元宵节) is the last day of the Chinese New Year celebration. This day is for the last moment for setting off fireworks, the last excuse for eating a big feast and the last chance for family getting together before the “年” celebrations are over. ( Lantern Festival is also a traditional time of celebration for foreigners who live in China).

The Lantern Festival, the 15th of the first month of the lunar calendar, is the first full moon of the year. Celebrations and traditions on this day date back to the Western Han Dynasty.

Traditions for this festival: as the name indicates, hanging and looking at lanterns is the main tradition. Lanterns of various shapes and sizes are displayed on trees, or along river banks.

Parents often take their children to Lantern Fairs and sometimes lucky kids even get a mini toy lantern.

Another tradition is guessing lantern riddles. These are riddles that are hung on lanterns for people to shoot down and solve. The riddles are usually short, wise, and sometimes humorous. The answer to a riddle can be a Chinese character, a famous person's name, a place name or a proverb. This tradition has become a popular game with serious staying power even as social development changes other traditions.

Other than that, the most important thing to do today is to eat sweet dumplings. In northern China, sweet dumplings made of glutinous rice flour are called “元宵” while in southern part they are called “汤圆”. Typical sweet dumplings are filled with black sesame sauce, sweetened bean paste, or hawthorn. Making “元宵” today is like a game or an activity, so it's seldom done without a reason and a group of friends or family present to help out.

每年农历的正月十五日,春节刚过,迎来的就是中国的传统节日--元宵节。元宵主要的活动就是看灯。东汉明帝时期,明帝提倡佛教,听说佛教有正月十五日僧人观佛舍利,点灯敬佛的做法,就命令这一天夜晚在皇宫和寺庙里点灯敬佛,令士族庶民都挂灯。以后这种佛教礼仪节日逐渐形成民间盛大的节日。该节经历了由宫廷到民间,由中原到全国的发展过程。

直到今天,元宵点灯的习俗仍然在中国的各地流传的,各式各样美丽的花灯在这一天都会点亮,孩子们提着自制的灯笼走街串巷,非常高兴。猜灯谜也是元宵节的一项重要活动,花灯的主人会将谜面写在灯笼上,挂在门口,如果有人可以猜中,就能得到小小的礼物。这项活动最早起源于宋朝,因为谜语能启迪智慧又饶有兴趣,所以流传过程中深受社会各阶层的欢迎。

民间过元宵节吃元宵的习俗。元宵由糯米制成,或实心,或带馅。馅有豆沙、白糖、山楂、各类果料等,食用时煮、煎、蒸、炸皆可。起初,人们把这种食物叫“浮圆子”,后来又叫“汤团”或“汤圆”,这些名称“团圆”字音相近,取团圆之意,象征全家人团团圆圆,和睦幸福,人们也以此怀念离别的亲人,寄托了对未来生活的美好愿望。

随着时间的推移,元宵节的活动越来越多,白天有耍龙灯、耍狮子、踩高跷、划旱船扭秧歌、打太平鼓等传统民俗表演。到了夜晚,除了五颜六色的美花灯之外,还有艳丽多姿的烟火。大多数家庭会在春节时留下一些烟花等到元宵节这天燃放,而一些地方政府也会举办烟花大会,当新年的第一个月圆之夜在盛大的烟火表演中来临时,人们都陶醉在这令人难忘了烟花与皎洁的明月中。