There are many countries involving in carnival now, wherever in Latin America or Europe, which has been introduced by Lexiophiles recently. “Carnival” is a very western word for Chinese people, since we do not have “Carnival” in our country. However, there is a “Lantern Festival”, which is considered by some people as the Chinese “Carnival”.
“Lantern Festival” has more than 2200 year’s history. In every this day, people go out to appreciate colorful lanterns; do lantern riddles, fireworks, lion dance, stilt-walking etc, and the most important, eating “ Yuan Xiao (rice glue ball)”.
“Yuan Xiao” is also called “Tang Yuan”, made from glutinous rice flour, which is mixed with a small amount of water to form balls and is then cooked and served in boiling water. Normally “Yuan Xiao” is filled by sweetened bean paste, white sugar, hawthorn or many kinds of jam. Since “Tang Yuan” sounds similar as the Chinese word “Tuan Yuan”, which means “reunion”, it is used by people to show their sentiment of missing, and the wish of happiness of the family.
One of the other traditions in “Lantern Festival” is to appreciate festive lantern. Since the Han dynasty (A.D. 58-57), to promote Buddhism, the emperor decided in every fifteenth day of the first lunar month, the palaces and temples should hang Lanterns. And it was brought to a great height of development in Tang and Song dynasties. In some part of China, “Lantern appreciation” has extra meaning: since “Lantern” called “Deng” in Chinese, it is similar as “Deng” which means “boy” or “man”; so women will walk under Lanterns in “Lantern Festival”, to pray to have a boy when they get pregnant.