Lantern Festival & 湯圓 (tāngyuán)
The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day in the new lunar year and marks the end of the lunar new year celebrations as well as the first full moon of the lunar year. The holiday dates back around 2,000 years ago during the Han Dynasty but the origins of the holiday are unclear. There are 2 main origin stories: one states the holiday as a Buddhist celebration while the other depicts the event as a deceptive plan with lanterns and firecrackers in response to the Jade Emperor’s plot to burn down a village as revenge for killing his favorite crane.
There are numerous activities related to the lantern festival, from sending paper lanterns into the night sky, looking at large lantern displays that comes in all shapes, colors, and sizes, to watching skillful lion dances, and also eating 湯圓 (tāngyuán), a glutinous ball made from rice flour.
When I was a kid, I would always help my family out when they were making 湯圓 and it is one of my favorite memories. I used to make all sorts of shapes and sizes because I felt like I had so much power in sculpting them the way I wanted. We would use crunchy peanut butter as the filling and cook them in a brown sugar slab and ginger soup. I eventually learned that we eat 湯圓 during the lunar festival as it represents the full moon as well as the importance of unity with its round shape.
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Designed in collaboration with Chinese-American artist, Melody Wong