It’s been a little over a week since we welcomed the Year of the Dragon—and Chinese New Year doesn’t stop at one day—it actually goes on for 15. The last day is the Lantern Festival, when traditionally children carry lanterns that night to the local temple.
There are many different stories about the origin of the Lantern Festival: it’s a day to simply honor Buddha, it’s based on a folk story about a homesick maiden, or it’s just Chinese Valentine’s Day. Centuries ago, it was the only day women were allow to go out chaperoned to be seen by eligible bachelors.
In modern times, the stories are less told, but the lanterns themselves still illuminate the night skies as a symbol of luck, love, and good wishes. There are many different lantern designs that reflect Chinese culture and scenery. My favorite growing up was the rabbit lantern, of course. It is made out of crepe paper instead of glassine paper, and so it was the easiest to catch on fire from the candle inside. I often had to stop the paper from burning, but that never deterred me from getting one every year.
Though it’s doesn’t fall on the exact date of the Lantern Festival, my friend, Jackie and I plan to celebrate the day with a big feast. Instead of lanterns, we asked folks to bring their best Asian dishes to our 2nd Annual Chinese New Year Potluck (#TigerCNYPL). There will be plenty of delicious food—some traditional, others more interpretive. Over 30 dishes are on the menu from the talented attendees, and the number is increasing every day.
Since this year’s shindig is significantly bigger, we’ve enlisted the Tiger Beer company to generously sponsor our event and provide brew for the event.
Next week I’ll report back with pictures and stories about the festive Year of the Dragon #CNYPL celebration.