Chinese Vocabulary and Phrases about the Lantern Festival

Posted by Lilian Li on Feb 10, 2017

Chinese vocabulary about lantern festival


The Lantern Festival is the first important festival follow after the Spring Festival. As the name implies, people often light up the lanterns during the Lantern Festival. Except for this convention, there are so many other things and traditional activities that you need to know about the Lantern Festival.

The Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month, and has been celebrated since Qin Dynasty 2000 years ago.

‘the 15th day of the 1st lunar month’---We normally speak it in ‘正月十五[zhēng yuè shí wǔ]’. Please note that ‘正’ is a polyphone, it can be pronounce in ‘zhèng’ or ‘zhēng’.

‘The Lantern Festival’ ---In Chinese, we called it ‘元宵节[yuán xiāo jié]’.

After knowing how to speak 元宵节, let’s ‘taste’ 元宵节 together! There are several certain foods that we are going to in the Lantern Festival:

元宵 [yuán xiāo]: This is a traditional food that everyone is going to eat in the Lantern Festival. ‘元宵’ is made by the sticky rice with some stuffing stuffed inside. When it had been boiled, it will float in the water, which makes people reflect to the moon shining in the sky, we take this to indicate family reunion.

汤圆 [tāng yuán]: It’s said that people from northern China named this food of ‘元宵’ while people from southern China called it ‘汤圆’. Although they are looks same in appearance, the production and flavor has slight different.

饺子 [jiǎo zi]: Dumplings play an important role in many Chinese traditional festivals such as the Spring Festival and the Winter Solstice.

生菜 [shēng cài]: This vegetable is popular in southern China especially in Guangdong Province cause the it pronounces like ‘生财[shēng cái]’ which means the growth in wealth.

猜灯谜 [cāi dēng mí]: When you are out during the Lantern Festival, it’s easy to find a place that is holding this activity. People will write or print the riddles on the papers and stick them on the lanterns. This activity can open and enlighten the people’s wisdom with fun.

赏花灯 [shǎng huā dēng]: Watching Lanterns have been an activity for the Lantern Festival as well. ‘lantern’ is ‘灯笼[dēng long]’ in Chinese. In recent days, many shopping malls or some tourist spots will hang up the lanterns in the Lantern Festival.

舞狮 [wǔ shī]: Lion Dance is a folk art with profound history. People wearing the special costume and performing the different gestures of the lion, this performance really needs long-term practice.

放烟花[fàng yān huā]: How could we forget to setting fireworks in such a flourishing festival?

吃元宵[chī yuán xiāo]: This is the very last thing we are going to do to end the Lantern Festival. I still remember there has a song that sings in, ‘卖汤圆,卖汤圆,小二哥的汤圆是圆又圆。一碗汤圆满又满,三毛钱呀买一碗……’. There has 80% possibility that you will hear this song if you walk in the street on Lantern Festival.

Here I have a riddle for you:

qiān lǐ dào zhōng dōng (cāi yī gè guó jiā )

千 里 到 中 东(猜一个国家)。

Tips: 千里:Thousands miles

到:to

中东:Middle East

(The answer is a country.)

Can you solve it? Have a guess and write it in the comment area if you got the answer!

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About The Author

Lilian Li

Lilian Li has a master's degree in linguistics and didactics from Rennes University in France. An expert in linguistics and educational psychology, she has taught Chinese as a foreign language for several years, primarily in France.

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