Yuanxiao Festival, also known as the Lantern Festival, an important traditional Chinese festival, which is on the 15th of the first lunar month. It marks the end of 15-day Chinese new year celebration. The date in the Western calendar changes annually; and in 2012, the festival falls on February 24.
The first month of the Chinese lunar calendar is called yuan month, and in ancient times people called night xiao. On the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, it is the first night to see a full moon after the New Year. Thus, the day is called “Yuanxiao Festival”. Yuanxiao, named after the festival, is an indispensable dish for celebration. There are small dumpling balls made of glutinous rice flour stuffed with sugar fillings. In south China, the food is also called “Tangyuan”. The name has a similar pronunciation with “tuanyuan”, meaning reunion. Chinese people believe the round shape of the balls and the bowl where they are served, comes to symbolize family togetherness, and that eating yuanxiao may bring the family happiness and good luck in the new year.
According to Chinese tradition, at the very beginning of a new year, when there is a bright full moon hanging in the sky, there should be thousands of colorful lanterns hung out for people to appreciate. Also, Chinese people celebrate it as Lantern Festival. On the night, people go to streets with a variety of lanterns under the full moon. The bright lanterns were symbolic of good luck and hope. Children will hold self-made or bought lanterns to stroll with on the streets, extremely excited. A fun activity for all ages is to solve riddles attached to lanterns. The person who can answer gets a small prize.
As the time goes by, more activities are added on the Lantern Festival, like dragon dance, lion dance, land boat dance, yangge dance, and walking on stilts, etc. people get all their families united in the joyful atmosphere.