shang yuan | Ancient Chinese Culture

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Lantern Festival

Lantern Festival, also known as Yuan Xiao Festival or Shang Yuan Festival, falls on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month. For Chinese, it is a festival of great significance that is widely celebrated by families all around China.

The festival has a long history in China which can date back to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 25). There are many different versions about the origin of the Lantern Festival. But it is believed that it had something to do with religious worship.

In the daytime of that day, people have the chance to appreciate wonderful performances such as lion dances, dragon lantern dances, yangge dances, etc. At night, most families will let off fireworks. But the main attraction on that day is the lanterns. Decorative lanterns depicting animals, flowers, historical figures are found everywhere. People may also participate in the game which is called Guessing Lantern Riddles.

Another important part of the festival is eating Yuanxiao or Tangyuan, small dumpling balls made of glutinous rice flour. Nowadays, the custom of eating Yuanxiao still remains.

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