Before I came to America, I heard that overseas students are a group of omnipotent people. Being thousands of miles away from home makes them independent and they are pushed to learn life skills to take care of themselves. They are plumbers, cookers, motor mechanics, and so on. I thought it’s kind of exaggerating. But I didn’t realize that it’s bloody true until I tried to assemble Ikea furniture last weekend…It was quite an experience.
I needed a desk for study. So my boyfriend and I drove to Ikea in Round Rock (completely forgotten who recommended us in the first place). Not to mention the experiences of having to park miles from the store’s entrance and having to lug giant boxes to the checkout aisle on our own, it all began when we left this place with the false hope of assembling the same furniture at our home.
This weekend is the traditional Lantern Festival, which indicates the end of Spring Festival. Believe it or not, it has a history traced back about 2000 years in the beginning of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220)! Here come the Chinese history and culture lesson 🙂 Emperor Hanmingdi was an advocate of Buddhism and he heard that some monks lit lanterns in the temples to show respect to Buddha on the 15th day of the first lunar month. Therefore, he advocated that all the temples, households, and royal palaces light lanterns on that evening. Gradually, this Buddhist custom became an important festival among Chinese people.
Lantern Festival is called 元宵节 Yuánxiāojié /ywen-sshyaoww jyeah/ and it also has an alternative name as 上元节 Shàngyuánjié shung-ywen-jyeah/. Chinese people celebrate it by enjoying lanterns, guessing lantern riddles, eating tangyuan or yuan xiao (glutinous rice balls), lion and dragon dances, etc.
I remember when I was young, my grandparents always said that you couldn’t perfectly end the Spring Festival without eating Tangyuan in Lantern Festival. Therefore, I decide to adventure to make small rice balls on my own according to the recipe. I prefer the sweet flavor, so I want to try with purple sweet potato filling. Here are the steps:
猴赛雷 may be THE WORD for 2016 Spring Festival. Actually, this word is derived from the mascot of the 2016 Spring Festival Gala-Kang Kang, which was announced by CCTV on Jan. 21st, 2016. It had been the first time that CCTV announced its mascot for Spring Festival Gala since 1983 (a four-hour TV show that has run in every Chinese Lunar New Year, operated by state-owned broadcaster Chinese Central Television).
(Left is the ink wash painting . Right is the 3D rendering.)
According to Baidu Baike (a web-based encyclopedia like Wikipedia in China), Mr. Han Meilin’s original design was in the style of traditional Chinese ink-wash painting and it was well-received by the general public. It is also Mr. Han who designed the mascot for Beijing Olympics Fuwa. However, the 3D rendering of Kang Kang has been critiqued by netizens as “terrifying” and “so ugly, I want to cry” once it’s released online.
Last weekend was traditional Chinese Spring Festival, the biggest festival in China to celebrate the lunar New Year. It’s a festival about families getting together to have the annual reunion dinner and usher the coming of new year. But it’s been the first year that I didn’t spend the Spring Festival with my family back in China since I’m studying my master’s degree in the States now.