The 15th day of the Lunar New Year is also the Lantern Festival, which seems to mark the end of the fireworks season.
We had been hearing firecrackers go off for 2 weeks, with a peak on the 5th day, which according to legend is the day when a dragon came out and the people used firecrackers to scare it away.
And when we say firecrackers, this ain’t no sissy little pellet of gunpowder.
We’re talking long long chains of the stuff draped in any public outdoor area you can imagine, that continue exploding for 10 minutes. I’ve “experienced” them on very busy sidewalks, in the middle of fairly busy intersections, and in major residential foot-traffic areas.
So you just walk or drive around. No big deal! Just don’t forget your earplugs.
We had also noticed (especially on New Year’s Eve), little sidewalk bonfires everywhere. We were later told they were burning paper representing money to appease/honor and possibly worship their ancestors. We are still learning a lot about the different events and their symbolism.
For the holiday we were invited to some friends for lunch, along with several other families.
Our friend Hua’s mother made about 34 different dishes for the occasion, all of which tasted beyond excellent.
The essential menu item for this day is Yuanxiao, small round balls of sticky rice with peanut or jasmine fillings.
They are either steamed or breaded and fried, and are quite tasty.
Fish is also eaten at the new year, due to Chinese play on words that sound alike.
The phrase “may there be surpluses every year” sounds the same as “may there be fish every year.” (I double checked with my reliable friend Wiki and he agreed).
And of course any number of stir fried dishes, as well as fried dates. The dates were surprisingly delicious!
After dark, from our lovely 14th floor vantage point, we saw a series of glowing lanterns in the park below being released into the air, and drifting away on the wind. Out with the old, in with the new.
Happy New Year, everyone!