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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Hong Kong Series at CantoneseClass101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind holidays and observances in Hong Kong. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 16, Lantern Festival, or 元宵 in Cantonese.
The Lantern Festival falls on the fifteenth day of the first month in the Lunar calendar, which is the very first full moon of the year. Let's see how Hong Kong people celebrate this traditional festival!
Now, before we get into more detail, I've got a question for you- Lantern Festival is also called "Chinese Valentine's Day". Do you know why?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later, so keep listening!
The main activity of Lantern Festival is to admire the full moon, or 月圓 in Cantonese. It accompanies beautiful lanterns or 燈籠. Every year, there are Lantern Carnivals, or 元宵綵燈會, held in Hong Kong, offering many programs including lantern displays, ethnic dance, traditional stage arts, and so on.
There are also lighting-up ceremonies with lantern riddles 猜燈謎, and game booths. That’s why the ceremony is perfect for the whole family to join and enjoy together.
You can also find the lantern riddles derived from ancient lantern admiration, where riddles are written on the lantern for the people to think about while they admire it.
During Lantern Festival, you can also see lion dance or 舞獅.
The lion dance is a kind of traditional performing art with martial arts techniques. Two performers are dressed in lion costumes. One wears the head and the other, the lower body. These two make the lion energetically jump and roll to the tune of music from gongs and drums.
The best way to spend Lantern Festival is to be with your loved ones. Therefore, many families get together and have a nice meal during the festival.
In our lesson about the winter solstice, we mentioned that glutinous rice balls, or 湯丸 in Cantonese, symbolize reunion. For that reason, people in Hong Kong eat the glutinous rice balls, or 湯丸 during the lantern festival when they are reunited with the loved ones.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Lantern Festival is also called "Chinese Valentine's Day". Do you know why?
"Chinese Valentine's Day" is called 中國情人節 in Cantonese. In ancient times, young girls were not allowed to go out except during the Lantern Festival on this day. So single men and women used to take this opportunity to meet and find their love.
In 2014, the Lantern Festival was celebrated on February 14, the same day as Valentine's Day in Western cultures. People called it a rare coincidence!
How was this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Is there a festival similar to the Lantern Festival in your country?
Leave us a comment at CantoneseClass101.com We'll see you next time!