The Lantern Festival is celebrated in China on the 15th day of the New Lunar Year. It symbolises the passing of winter and the declining of darkness, and as the lanterns are released into the sky, also symbolises a new start. It’s a chance for families to get together again before life goes back to normal after the Spring Festival. The glutinous, black sesame filled rice balls, tangyuan 汤圆, are the traditional dessert for this period.
In Chengdu, the InternChina team and Co. celebrated this year’s Lantern Festival with our Language partner school. There was a variety of cultural activities we could take part in, which included tangyuan-making, calligraphy workshops, Chinese paper cutting, drinking tea and quizzes. Each of the activities was fun and engaging, but I do believe that most of us got stuck in the tangyuan room!
The sweet, squidgy dessert is made from glutinous rice flower with a bit of water. They can be either filled or unfilled, but traditionally they will have a black sesame paste filling. Nowadays you can find them stuffed with almost anything however – peanut butter is one of my favourites. Though a fairly simple concept, it’s not actually that easy to roll the balls and make sure none of the filling spills out and ‘stains’ the snow white dough. The mixture is also prone to drying out quickly, so there was some time pressure too. It took us a couple of tries to get them right!
Next stop was calligraphy. Here we had the opportunity to let out our inner artists and have a go with the Chinese calligraphy brush. Unlike the ones we’re used to from home, these brushes are usually thicker and softer and the correct way to hold them is also different (and quite tricky to begin with..).
In the evening, people gathered by the river to set off paper lanterns and enjoy the last few fireworks. There’s something very calming about watching the little red and yellow light rise into the sky
Curious? Come join us for an internship in Qingdao, Zhuhai or Chengdu, and get the chance to try the local specialities and experience true Chinese traditions! Apply Now!!