Eating Tangyuan is an important tradition for the Lantern Festival. Tangyuan, also know as yuanxiao, is a Chinese food made from glutinous rice flour mixed with a small amount of water to form balls and is then cooked and served in boiling water.
Traditionally, the balls come stuffed with sweet black sesame paste, although the fillings can vary. Tangyuan are eaten during Lantern Festival because of a homophone for union.
A painting of the Lantern Festival by Zou Li. [Photo/artron.net]
Decorating and hanging lanterns is the main tradition of the festival, with lanterns big and small hung around households, parks, streets and other public spaces. Red lanterns of various shape and type will attract countless visitors to watch.
Solving riddles on lanterns has been a popular tradition since the Song Dynasty. People write riddles on paper and stick them to the lanterns and if someone guesses correctly, they can pull the riddle off. The notes often contain messages of good fortune and wishes.
The lion dance is one of the oldest traditions to celebrate the Chinese New Year. In ancient times, people regarded the lion as a symbol of bravery and strength and believed the dance could drive away bad fortune to protect people and their livestock. The custom has continued to the modern day and lion dances are performed at important events on the Chinese calendar, such as the Lantern Festival, to bring good luck.
Dragon dance is a form of traditional dance and performance in Chinese culture. Like the lion dance it is most often seen in festival celebration. The dance is performed by a team of dancers who manipulate a long flexible figure of a dragon using poles positioned at regular intervals along the length of the dragon.
Chinese dragons are a symbol of China, and they are believed to bring good luck to people, therefore the longer the dragon in the dance, the more luck it will bring to the community.
Walking on stilts, or Cai Gaoqiao, is another popular traditional performance for the Lantern Festival, especially in Northern China. According to the archives, our Chinese ancestors began using stilts to help them gather fruits from trees. This practical use of stilts gradually developed into a kind of folk dance.