The traditional Lantern Festival falls on the fifteenth day of the first month in the Chinese lunar calendar, the first full-moon night of Chinese New Year. As a long-standing custom, people fly lanterns, appreciate multi-colored lanterns, solve riddles written on the lanterns and eat sweet dumplings on the day to celebrate the festival, which marks the end of the Spring Festival.

 

 

The full moon on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month welcomes the Lantern Festival, which symbolizes the complete family reunion and luckiness. After the Lantern Festival, the Chinese New Year celebrations are over.

On the day, every family serves yuanxiao or sweet dumplings resembling the shape of the full moon. The sweet dumplings in Suzhou are made of glutinous rice flour stuffed with bean paste, rose, and sesame. It has the meaning of reunion and luckiness. However, the festival is known for its lantern. On that day, every family, shop and store should hang lanterns at the front gate. Lanterns are also displayed at public areas such as temples, gardens and squares. After the sunset, people light many colourful lanterns across the city. The shape of the lantern varies from plants, animals, figures and stories. The most common lantern shapes in Suzhou are rabbit lanterns, ingot lanterns and horse lanterns. However, the largest and most magnificent is the dragon lantern that is composed of nine sections with a head, tail and shining scales and supported by a long stick controlled by the dancers. One person holds a big pearl “rolling ball” to challenge, chase and fight with the dragon. Such scenes are still seen in many places of the city. On the night of the Lantern Festival, people, young and old, go out to watch and appreciate the lanterns.

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