05 March 2007

Chinese Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival is celebrated today, a Chinese festival that is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar year in the Chinese calendar. The Lantern Festival is the last day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebration period and is also known as the Little New Year since it marks the end of the series of celebrations starting from the Chinese New Year.

During the Lantern Festival, children go out at night carrying bright lanterns. In ancient times, the lanterns were fairly simple, for only the emperor and noblemen had large ornate ones; in modern times, lanterns have been embellished with many complex designs. For example, lanterns are now often made in shapes of animals.

Traditionally, the date was a day for love and matchemaking. It was one of the few nights in ancient times without a strict curfew. Young people were chaperoned in the streets in hopes of finding love. Matchmakers acted busily in hopes of pairing couples. The brightest lanterns were symbolic of good luck and hope.

Those who do not carry lanterns often enjoy watching informal lantern parades. Other popular activities at this festival include eating tanguan), a sweet glutinous rice dumpling served in a sugary soup, and guessing lantern riddles, often messages of love.

Activity Idea
Making oriental paper lanterns is a great way to practice scissor skills – fold a piece of paper in half lengthways and make a series of cuts from the centre fold to about two centimetres from the edge, open the paper out and roll along the two short ends then join to make the lantern, add a string to hang it up.

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