Today marks the celebration of 'Lantern Festival', and the close of Chinese New Year festivities. Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the new lunar year, so like the start of Chinese New Year, will not fall on the same Western (solar) calendar date each year.
Lantern Festival has its own special traditions and customs, which are as vast as the country of China itself, and vary from region to region, family to family. The day celebrates the coming of spring with fireworks; as it traditional through out Chinese New Year, but also by lighting and watching beautiful glowing lanterns, and the eating of Yuanxiao; sweet or savoury-stuffed rice balls made from glutenous rice. The Yuanxiao or Tangyuan as it's also known as, symbolise wholeness and togetherness, due to its round shape as well as its similarity to the pronunciation of the word for 'happy family gathering'.
Other customs might include performing or watching traditional folk dance known as the "Lion Dance', performed to symbolise bravery and to chase away evil spirits. 'Lantern riddles' are another custom, where riddles are written on sheets of paper, placed around the colourful lanterns outside peoples homes for visitors or passers by to guess and earn gifts. In Hong Kong Lantern Festival also serves as the equivelant to Valentines Day by commercial markets making it that much more of a popular holiday to participate in.
Overall, Lantern Festival seems to be by far one of the most recreational days through out the Chinese New Year celebrations, as traditions extend themselves past immediate familiar celebrations. Today we will celebrate this special day with our very own Lantern Festival to welcome a much anticipated Spring!