The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month, and traditionally ends the Chinese New Year period. In 2016 it falls on February 22nd. There is no public holiday for this festival. So MCCN colleagues have a mini-party during the lunchtime.
Guessing Lantern Riddles
Guessing (solving) lantern riddles is one of the most important and popular activities of the Lantern Festival. Usually, Lantern owners write riddles on paper notes and pasted them upon the colorful lanterns. People crowd round to guess the riddles. If someone thinks they have the right answer, they can pull the riddle off and go to the lantern owner to check their answer. If the answer is right, there is usually a small gift as a prize. MANN+HUMMEL Changchun Labor Union also prepared hundreds of riddles, both Chinese and English, for colleagues to have an interesting and informative time together. All the riddles printed on the colorful papers, hanging alongside the windows made us feel like we had a flower ocean in front us. We could feel the warmth and enthusiasm of spring coming towards us despite the fact that it was heavily snowing outdoors with the temperature nearly -20 degrees. Every year we would have some very good solvers who are quite interested in this activity and could solve a lot of riddles.
Eating Tangyuan (Rice Balls)
Eating Tangyuan is another very important custom of the Lantern Festival.
Tangyuan is the ball-shaped dumplings made of glutinous rice flour, with different fillings stuffed inside, usually sweet, such as white sugar, brown sugar, sesame seeds, peanuts, walnuts, rose petals, bean paste, and jujube paste, or any combination of two or three ingredients. Tangyuan can be boiled, fried, or steamed.
As tangyuan is pronounced similarly to tuanyuan (团圆), which means the whole family gathering together happily. Chinese people believe that the round shape of the balls and their bowls symbolize wholeness and togetherness. Therefore, eating tangyuan on the Lantern Festival is a way for Chinese people to express their best wishes for their family and their future lives.
During the lunchtime, all MANN+HUMMEL Changchun colleagues enjoyed eating tangyuan together to share joy and happiness. We talked with each other to share the special experiences during the Chinese New Year and exchanged opinions on different local customs and taboos, which was quite relaxing and interesting.
This year we also had a very special joiner, Mr. Philip Schuster who spent the Lantern Festival for the first time. We also had a short interview with him about his experience. “It is my first time to Celebrate Chinese New Year in China. We wanted to see the festival traditions here so we started the Year of Monkey in a famous costal city in northeast China – Dalian, instead of travelling overseas. When we came back to Changchun, everywhere in the city was decorated with red lanterns”.
“I tried to answer some of the riddles but it was not so easy. And I also tried the rice balls which were quite sweet and delicious. It was a quite unique experience to celebrate Lantern Festival in China. I am happy to experience more local and traditional culture of China during my stay here.”