Happy Year of the Dog!
This was my third year to experience Chinese New Year while living in China. I wasn’t actually in China for the New Year’s Day (more on that later), but luckily for me the Chinese Spring Festival holiday stretches out for 15 days so I could still be involved in some festivities, namely the Lantern Festival.
WHAT IS THE LANTERN FESTIVAL?
The fifteenth day of the Chinese Spring Festival holiday is the Lantern Festival day. This day marks the end of the holiday festivities, and is especially fun. People will buy paper lanterns and write riddles and good wishes on them.
Even if you don’t release them, the symbolism is important, and it’s just a sweet thing to do with your family and friends. People will eat special rice balls and spend time with their family on this day.
You’ll also see lanterns hung up more places around the city, especially popular tourist walking areas.
When I first came to China and heard about the Chinese Lantern Festival I automatically had this idea it would be super romantic and whimsical, everyone in the city gathering by the river and releasing lanterns into the sky all Tangled style – you know what I’m talking about.
Unfortunately there are rules surrounding the lantern releases – most cities can’t do a big release (maybe it’s a fire hazard?), but if you’re farther out in a country area you can.
LANTERN FESTIVAL AT KINDERGARTEN
The Lantern Festival Festival was on Friday, March 2 this year, so I was working at the kindergarten and the Chinese teachers had a special activity planned for the kids. They had asked the children’s parents to help the children write good wishes and special thoughts on paper the day before, then the kids made little “firecrackers” to hang at the school. (In Chinese this is called 炮仗 – paozhang).
After they made the firecrackers the teachers wanted pictures. Lots of pictures. Inside. Outside. Upstairs. Downstairs. The kids were pretty happy to show them off though (but became really sad if one of the tubes fell off).
It was fun to celebrate the end of the Chinese Spring Festival with my little students! That night Guangzhou also had some special events at Yuexiu Park and Zhujiang New Town to celebrate and I went out with some Chinese friends.
It’s still my dream to see a big lantern release somewhere – I’ve heard Thailand and Vietnam do this, but I went to those countries during the wrong time for that! Maybe one day 😉
Here’s to a happy and prosperous year of the dog!