yuan xiao | Ancient Chinese Culture

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Tang Yuan

Tang Yuan, also called Yuan Xiao, is a kind of stuffed dumpling ball which is made of glutinous rice flour. Its history can date back to the Song Dynasty (960–1279).

In Chinese, the pronunciation of Tang Yuan is similar to the word Tuan Yuan, which has the meaning of reunion and happiness in Chinese. Therefore, Tang Yuan is traditional served on the Dongzhi Festival and the Lantern Festival. It is also commonly found at Chinese weddings. It is believed that the new couple will have a sweet and round (no conflict) life.

It can be filled or unfilled and its fillings can be chopped peanuts, red bean paste, sesame paste, etc. Besides the wide choice of its fillings, you may also found Tang Yuan of various colors in the market nowadays.


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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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