the festival of lanterns takes place at the end of the chinese new year celebration, on the fifteenth day of the first moon. lanterns have been part of chinese life for centuries so it's not surprising to see a festival of lanterns.
people usually hang lanterns in the gardens, outside the houses, and on the boats. these lanterns are signposts to guide guests and spirits of ancestors to the lunar celebration. after a sumptuous fifteen-day feast, these lanterns light the way for the spirits back to the world beyond.
silk, paper and plastic lanterns vary in shape and size and are usually multi-colored. some are in the shapes of butterflies, birds, flowers, and boats. other are shaped like dragon, fruit and animal symbols of that year. the most popular type of lantern is the "horse-racing" one, in which figures or animals rotate around the vertical axis of the lantern.
the special food for the lantern festival is yuen sin or tong yuen. these are round dumplings made with sticky rice flour. they can be filled and served as a sweet snack or made plain and cooked in a soup with vegetables, meat and dried shrimp. the round shape of the dumpling is a symbol of wholeness, completeness and unity.
the lantern festival is an occasion for families to get together and for everyone--young, old, rich and poor to have fun.