Some says the Chinese tradition is best presevrved in Taiwan. However, because its early development, most traditional architectures were gone or rebuilt to modern styles. I said the best traditional Chinese architecture still exist in China, but the spirit of the culture almost disappear in its society. I hope at least the hardware parts can be well preserved in today's society where every one realizes "antiques" attract tourism and money.
View more hand made Lanterns in my friend Elaine's blog .
Yesterday was Lantern Festival. We ate glutinous rice balls to celebrate. Last year we celebrated it in Taiwan on the day before we flew back to China. So this was the first time we celebrated it in China. We forgot to bring one lantern for Winston to carry on Lantern Festival Eve to maintain this tradition.
Lantern Festival is the 15th day of first month of lunar new year. People celebrate it to end the Chinese New Year festivities. Rice balls also calledYuan Xiao or Tang Yuan are the traditional food to eat on the day.
Rice balls, Tang Yuan
Yuan Xiao and Tang Yuan are made of glutinous rice, sometimes rolled around a filling of sesame, peanuts, vegetable, or meat. The round shape of rice balls symbolizes wholeness and unity, and families usually eat together to celebrate the day.
We saw many Lantern exhibitions in parks and museums in Taiwan days before Lantern Festival, but none in Suzhou's parks. I believe they have at least one big lantern somewhere in the old town. However, on the Lantern Festival eve, there were many firewworks (almost out of control) everywhere (until midnight) and flying lanterns in the sky with some broken in the middle falling to the ground and some hung on the electric power pole and causing temporary power shortage in the neighborhood.
From the place I live, I can see the lanterns carring candles flying high in the sky and fantastic fireworks from every side of the windows in my house. Flying lanterns are beautiful and seem peaceful, but in fact, they are very dangerous. In tradition, people fly the lantern into sky and make wishes to God. But there is no guarantee that every flying lantern would fly high in to the sky and extinguish itself. Maybe the government won't do anything banning until something really serious happens. Isn't making wish on the risk of others' safety too selfish? Would God help selfish people's wish come true?
As for the fireworks, since many people are rich in a sudden in this developing country. Some families buy tons of fireworks to celebrate big days the way they like. So they play long lasting fireworks to show their prosperity while others have to close the windows to avoid the stuffing smoke and noises all night long. I heard that one rich family killed 21 persons and 5 luxurious cars accidently in the fireworks on the Eve. I hope people would learn the lesson.
Who would think of the tragedy behind?
So, what can we do to keep the tradition safely? It is easy. Keep the tradition but environmentally.
Carry lanterns, don't fly lantens (especially with lighted candles inside) . Show more lanterns in the parks and museums instead of exploding too many fireworks on the Eve. For the environmental reason, I think the fireworks should completely be banned in the world. The firework factories had caused many deaths in poverty areas, not to say the air pollution by lighting them.