New Year’s Eve is the moment of firecrackers,
then first full moon night is the time for lanterns (三十的火，十五的灯).
The lantern festival of the
Pig Year is on 22 February, by then Chinese communities
lighted lanterns all over the world. But nowhere on the
planet the lanterns lighted more brilliant than that
in China, and nowhere in China the lantern show is more
magnificent than that in Nanjing,
the capital of six ancient dynasties (六朝古都), and the
initial dragon seat of the Great Ming (大明王朝).
The earliest lantern festival in Nanjing can trace back
to third century, but it is during the Ming era that the
lantern show became the number one spectacle in the Middle
Kingdom, thus the saying of 秦淮灯火甲天下, meaning the lantern
show along the Qinghuai River is the best under Heaven,
became widely known.
For many people in China, without a lantern show (元宵灯会)
to conclude the event, the Chinese New Year festival is
incomplete; to many people in Nanjing, without going to
the Confucian Temple (夫子庙) to watch lanterns, the lantern
festival is just a sham.
So they went, in the number of nearly half million, to
the temple that had nearly half million square metres of
space decorated with nearly half million of lanterns.
Long before the sun abdicated its celestial throne to
the moon, around and within the Confucian Temple, along
and on the Qinhuai River (秦淮河) near by, the streams of
lights had already come into being like the Milky Way collapsed
Qinhua River on the night of Lantern Festival
Across the Archway of Literature Centre (天下文枢牌坊) and the
Bridge of Scholarly Virtue (文德桥) and the Hall of Great
Accomplishment (大成殿), the enlightened culture
of Confucius was honoured in the theme lanterns of
Confucian Touring the States (孔子周游列国).
In the waterway of Qinhuai where the old-fashioned terrace
boats adorned with lamps spread vari-coloured sails, the
magnificent wild landscape was appreciated in the theme
lanterns of Lilies in the River (荷照秦淮), of Dragons Playing
Beads (双龙戏珠), of Music
of the Flow (秦淮流韵).
Around the Gateway of China (中华门),the brilliant civilisation
of the Ming Dynasty was reflected in the themed lanterns
of First Ming Emperor Exploring the Qinhuai (朱元璋游秦淮), of
First Scholar Parading
His Awards (状元巡游).
Lanterns in Nanjing
And more lanterns, everywhere, in the shapes of water
lily (荷花灯), of rabbit (兔子灯), of orchard (兰花灯), of lion
(狮子灯), of airplane, with the help from the high tech of
neo lights, of laser beams, of audio effects; the visitors
were walking by the lanterns, through the lanterns, under
the lanterns. And that was the party of the light on the
first full moon night in the ancient city that has the
glory of the past which will never fade.
Yuanxiao with sweet sesame filling
Of course, no Chinese festival would be regarded as
complete without its special theme food, and there can
be no exception with the Lantern Festival. The soup of
sticky rice balls typically stuffed with sweet sesame
filling called yuanxiao (元宵) or tangyuan (汤圆)
are commonly consumed on the occasion.
Luck in 2007 - Snake
in 2007 - Horse