Life in China: A Picture A Day, February 21, 2016

The traditional end of the Spring Festival celebration will be tomorrow, Monday, February 22, on what is called 元宵节 yuán xiāo jié or “Lantern Festival.” It is the first full moon of the new year, 15 days after the new moon which began the new year. This is also considered the start of spring.

Solving lantern riddles is a popular activity for the Lantern Festival. Riddles are written on papers attached to lanterns (originally they were written on the lanterns), if you think you know the answer, you take the paper down, and if you are correct, you get a small gift. This tradition dates way back to the Song Dynasty from 960-1279.

Since the children here return to school tomorrow, the management where we live had a little “party” this afternoon. Riddles to answer, a snack, and also there were people doing shoe repair, clothes mending and knife sharpening (and they were all busy!).

The riddle in the picture says “a bowl of rice gruel poured on a head (clue: a celebrity)” The answer is
周润发Zhou Run Fa, an actor, because “zhou” with a different character, but same tone, can mean rice gruel, “run” can mean moist, and “fa” can mean hair. You can see some of these aren’t easy to understand if you don’t know Chinese culture! Other riddles were about animals, place names, songs, etc. (Thanks to my daughter Leah for the riddle explanation)