Lantern Festival

Discussion in 'Computer Support' started by, Feb 26, 2008.

  1. Guest

    The 15th day of the 1st lunar month is the Chinese Lantern Festival
    because the first lunar month is called yuan-month and in the ancient
    times people called night Xiao. The 15th day is the first night to see
    a full moon. So the day is also called Yuan Xiao Festival in
    China.According to the 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. At this time, people will try to solve the puzzles on the
    lanterns and eat yuanxiao (glutinous rice ball) and get all their
    families united in the joyful atmosphere.

    Until the Sui Dynasty in the sixth century, Emperor Yangdi invited
    envoys from other countries to China to see the colorful lighted
    lanterns and enjoy the gala erformances.

    By the beginning of the Tang Dynasty in the seventh century, the
    lantern displays would last three days. The emperor also lifted the
    curfew, allowing the people to enjoy the festive lanterns day and
    night. It is not difficult to find Chinese poems which describe this
    happy scene.

    In the Song Dynasty, the festival was celebrated for five days and the
    activities began to spread to many of the big cities in China.Colorful
    glass and even jade were used to make lanterns, with figures from folk
    tales painted on the lanterns.

    However, the largest Lantern Festival celebration took place in the
    early part of the 15th century. The festivities continued for ten
    days. Emperor Chengzu had the downtown area set aside as a center for
    displaying the lanterns. Even today,there is a place in Beijing called
    Dengshikou.In Chinese,Deng means lantern and Shi is arket.The area
    became a market where lanterns were sold during the day.In the
    evening, the local people would go there to see the beautiful lighted
    lanterns on display.

    Today, the displaying of lanterns is still a big event on the 15th day
    of the first lunar month throughout China. People enjoy the brightly
    lit night. Chengdu in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, for example,
    holds a lantern fair each year in the Cultural Park. During the
    Lantern Festival,the park is literally an ocean of lanterns!Many new
    designs attract countless visitors. The most eye-catching lantern is
    the Dragon Pole, This is a lantern in the shape of a golden dragon,
    spiraling up a 27-meter -high pole, spewing fireworks from its mouth.
    It is quite an impressive sight!


    There are many different beliefs about the origin of the Lantern
    Festival.But one thing for sure is that it had something to do with
    religious worship.

    One legend tells us that it was a time to worship Taiyi, the God of
    Heaven in ancient times. The belief was that the God of Heaven
    controlled the destiny of the human world. He had sixteen dragons at
    his beck and call and he decided when to inflict drought,storms,
    fafmine or pestilence upon human beings.Beginning with Qinshihuang,
    the first emperor to unite the country, all subsequent emperors
    ordered splendid ceremonies each year. The emperor would ask Taiyi to
    bring favorable weather and good health to him and his people. Emperor
    Wudi of the Han Dynasty directed special attention to this event. In
    104 BC,he proclaimed it one of the most important celebrations and the
    ceremony would last throughout the night.

    Another legend associates the Lantern Festival with Taoism. Tianguan
    is the Taoist god responsible for good fortune. His birthday falls on
    the 15th day of the first lunar month. It is said that Tianguan likes
    all types of entertainment. So followers prepare various kinds of
    activities during which they pray for good fortune.

    The third story about the origin of the festival boes like this.
    Buddhism first entered China during the reign of Emperor Mingdi of the
    Eastern Han Dynasty. That was in the first century. However, it did
    not exert any great influence among the Chinese people. one day,
    Emperor Mingdi had a dream about a gold man in his palace. At the very
    moment when he was about to ask the mysterious figure who he was, the
    gold man suddenly rose to the sky and disappeared in the west. The
    next day, Emperor Mingdi sent a scholar to India on a pilgrimage to
    locate Buddhist scriptures. After joumeying thousands of miles,the
    scholar finally returned with the scriptures. Emperor Mingdi ordered
    that a temple be built to house a statue of Buddha and serve as a
    repository for the scriptures. Followers believe that the power of
    Buddha can dispel darkness.

    So Emperor Mingdi ordered his subjects to display lighted lanterns
    during what was to become the Lantern Festival.


    Besides entertainment and beautiful lanterns, another important part
    of the Lantern Festival,or Yuanxiao Festival is eating small dumpling
    balls made of glutinous rice flour. We call these balls Yuanxiao or
    Tangyuan. Obviously, they get the name from the festival itself. It is
    said that the custom of eating Yuanxiao originated during the Eastern
    Jin Dynasty in the fourth centuty, then became popular during the Tang
    and Song periods.

    The fillings inside the dumplings or Yuansiao are either sweet or
    salty. Sweet fillings are made of sugar, Walnuts, sesame, osmanthus
    flowers, rose petals, sweetened tangerine peel, bean paste, or jujube
    paste. A single ingredient or any combination can be used as the
    filling . The salty variety is filled with minced meat, vegetables or
    a mixture.

    The way to make Yuanxiao also varies between northern and southern
    China. The usual method followed in southern provinceds is to shape
    the dough of rice flour into balls, make a hole, insert the filling,
    then close the hole and smooth out the dumpling by rolling it between
    your hands.In North China,sweeet or nonmeat stuffing is the usual
    ingredient. The fillings are pressed into hardened cores, dipped
    lightly in water and rolled in a flat basket containing dry glutinous
    rice flour. A layer of the flour sticks to the filling, which is then
    again dipped in water and rolled a second time in the rice flour. And
    so it goes, like rolling a snowball, until the dumpling is the desired

    The custom of eating Yuanxiao dumplings remains. This tradition
    encourages both old and new stores to promote their Yuanxiao products.
    They all try their best to improve the taste and quality of the
    dumplings to attract more customers.

    , Feb 26, 2008
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