Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio
This is Part IV of a 4-part series on Chinese New Year to share special family memories of a good friend, who is from Shanghai, China. Please be sure to read the Introduction, Part I: Chinese New Year's Eve, Part II: Chinese New Year & Family Time, and Part III: Chinese New Year & Kids.
On Day 15 of the Chinese New Year, the final day, there is a Lantern Festival [Yuan Xiao Jie]. In the West, this will fall on Thursday, March 5th this year. In Shanghai, there is a very famous site called City God Temple (Chenghuang Miao).
People love to stroll through the gardens and admire the plethora of lanterns. The city hangs lanterns of all shapes, sizes and colors... mostly red, but not exclusively. Enormous paper lanterns, shaped like the celebratory animal of the zodiac, are created and floated in nearby ponds. They look especially beautiful at night.
There are elements of fire, water and many lanterns have ribbons with riddles attached like a "tail." If you guess the riddle, you get a little prize. Of course, more culture, dance and music accompany the Lantern Festival with lively Dragon Dances. For many, Day 15 is the last day to celebrate the New Year with family and friends. Then, their gaze returns to the schedules of family, work and school. Life continues.
As the snow continues to fall in New Jersey, another excuse for a celebration is calling to me. Perhaps I can make some simple dumplings with ready-made wonton wrappers and some ground chicken & scallion filling. I promise to give my children a little red envelope today, even if it is made with red construction paper and "only" contains a small bill. Why not adopt a new tradition? Makes for a good story.