Hongqiao shopping centers become Lantern Fest hubs
The 15 days of Spring Festival celebrations ended with the first full moon of the year on Feb 11. The day marks the Lantern Festival, a tradition in which Chinese citizens unleash a final burst of joyful energy and enjoy a last round of seasonal feasting.
Bowls of Yuanxiao, a glutinous rice ball typically made during the last days of Spring Festival, stand on a table ready to be eaten during Lantern Festival. [Photo provided to China Daily]
The festival is actually named after yuanxiao, a glutinous rice ball, and is known as the Yuanxiao Festival in Chinese - yuan means round and xiao translates as night. The tradition can be understood by the fact people believe eating a round white object during the first full moon will bring future sweetness and harmony.
Residents as well as visitors in Hongqiao were not disappointed by the efforts of those in charge at the various local commercial complexes during the festive period. The experience was one of continued traditions with wonderful firework shows, elaborate lantern decorations, and dragon and lion dances entertaining audiences all around Hongqiao.
Crowds endeavor to solve riddles written on pieces of paper that hang along the hallway. Those smart enough to calculate the correct answer are able to win special festival gifts. [Photo provided to China Daily]
The grand shopping complex Hongqiao Tiandi rolled out a bustling temple fair that featured an array of folk performances and interactive events that allowed visitors to get fully involved. Activities included making handmade lamps and nian gao, a traditional Chinese rice cake. In another fun activity, the organizers handed out prizes to those smart enough to solve riddles that were written on the sides of paper lanterns.
Foodies that made their way to New Hualian Shopping Center were certainly not disappointed by the opportunity to eat yuanxiao completely free of charge, though visitors had to be fast as the 600 samples were finished in a remarkably short period of time.
A wide range of delicacies stand in wide baskets on long tables at Hongqiao's New Hualian Shopping Center. [Photo provided to China Daily]
Hongqiao Celestial, a local shopping center, attracted a wealth of visitors hoping to experience traditional celebrations. The mall certainly pulled out all the stops for the occasion and drew up long tables to offer a wide range of delicacies to visitors. The shopping center also offered folk activities such making sugar figurines, doing paper cutting, and offering guests the chance to make handmade accessories.
The Lantern Festival has been around since the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220) and was initially a tribute to the ancient god of light. Over time, however, it became incorporated into the New Year celebrations. While the ways of celebrating the festival may have changed in the tradition's 2,000 years of history, the sentiment of taking stock and wishing for health and prosperity in the coming year have remained the same.