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Will Lantern Festival become a world-wide carnival?

(People's Daily Online)

15:10, February 26, 2013

Glutinous rice balls prove a popular Lantern Festival treat at the Laoshe Teahouse in Beijing on Sunday.(Xinhua/ Wang Peng)

Key Words:Latern Festival; carnival
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The Lantern Festival is another symbol of reunion in China.

Xiao Li, who lives in Madrid, Spain, is busy preparing for the Lantern Festival gathering these days. "Living in this foreign country, I am going to call on my friends and neighbors to make rice balls in my house," she said. Xiao Li not only tells her kids legends and stories about the Lantern Festival but also crams her foreign neighbors about customs of the traditional Chinese holiday.

In the past, Xiao Li always paid great attention to creating an atmosphere for every festival in a year. The main food of each festival is especially essential. She always believes Chinese traditional festivals must be celebrated no matter where she lives.

The Chinese Lantern Festival has two distinguishing features: first, eating rice balls; second, viewing the festival lanterns. Can such holiday customs, which seem slightly old-fashioned even within China, become a worldwide carnival? This is not wishful thinking, because the Lantern Festival is in its nature a carnival. If the Brazilian carnival can attract people from around the world, why can’t the Lantern Festival?

Emperor Yang of Sui dynasty once promoted Chinese Lantern Festival customs to the world

During the Lantern Festival 1,400 years ago, in Sui dynasty, Emperor Yang would decorate both the inside and the outside of the palace with lanterns and colored ribbons on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month every year in order to boast to foreign envoys about the heavenly abundance in China. In the sixth year of the reign of Emperor Yang (AD 610), during the Lantern Festival, the Emperor convened folk artists for a grand acrobatics show outside the city of Luoyang, to entertain the chiefs of all countries and all clans and promote the Chinese Lantern Festival customs to the world.

The customs were kept in later ages. As the French sinologist Jacques Gernet said, the real beginning of the New Year in Song dynasty was the Lantern Festival, which lasted three days from the fourteenth to the sixteenth of the first lunar month. The three-day celebration has all the performance characteristics of a carnival.

In short, the Lantern Festival has been the carnival of the Chinese people since ancient times. The saying to "rollick through the Lantern Festival" sufficiently illustrates the expectation of the people for this festival: to enjoy it to the full.

Everyone can make his or her contribution for Chinese culture to "go global". The Lantern Festival is widely popular in areas influenced by the Chinese culture. South Korea and Japan both celebrate the Lantern Festival. The Lantern Festival in Malaysia has a custom called "throwing oranges and finding bananas". During the festival, single men and women will rush to the river or lake; man will throw bananas and woman will throw oranges into the river, with contact number written on the fruit, hoping to find a good marriage.

However, every Chinese has to make effort for the Lantern Festival to gain favor of the world outside the Chinese cultural circle. Everyone can make his or her contribution for Chinese culture to go global.

Read the Chinese version: 元宵节能成为世界性的狂欢节吗?Source:People's Daily Overseas Edition , author: Zheng Ming.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:GaoYinan、Zhang Qian)

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