Lantern Festival (Yuan Xiao Jia) is celebrated on the 15th of the first month of the Chinese calendar. This is actually the holiday that closes the Chinese New Year celebrations.
What is the origin of the holiday of lanterns? According to legend, one day the Emperor of the Jade sent a beautiful crane from heaven to earth. However, when the crane landed in the country, he was captured and murdered by the villagers. As punishment for the heinous act, the Jade emperor decided to destroy the village on the 15th of the month. However, the emperor’s daughter warned the villagers against the decree, and they found an original way to evade it. On the appointed day, the residents lit up all the streets and houses in the village with paper lamps, lit fires and fireworks and thus actually made him think that the village was on fire. On this day it is customary to inflate paper balloons in a variety of shapes and colors and illuminate the city streets to ward off evil spirits.
The dish most associated with Chinese lantern holiday is the sweet rice balls Tang Yuan 汤圆, which symbolize family reunion and reflect the hope for a new year of happiness and fulfillment. In southern China it is customary to eat tang yuan as early as the beginning of spring and Rosh Hashanah celebrations, while in northern China it is customary to prepare this dish at the end of Rosh Hashanah celebrations.
Here’s a recipe for traditional Cantonese-style tang yuan:
Happy Holidays to everyone!元宵节 快乐！