Image of a red ox, with various New Years festivities around him such as food, fireworks, and lanterns.

Year of the Ox Officially Begins: New Year Traditions Mark The End of Holiday

By Tiger Shi
Web Content Contributor

Yesterday was the Spring Lantern Festival, marking the end of Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations. The holiday (Lunar New Year) itself lasts two weeks.

The lantern festival is a fitting way to conclude the holiday. Usually on this day people make lanterns, light them and watch them fly up into the sky. Based on my personal knowledge, this tradition was started during the Three Kingdoms period or possibly earlier than that.

I’ve seen the lanterns shown in TV shows and movies but never in-person. I think it was because my family never had the chance or motivation to fly lanterns, but I think it would be awesome if we do craft and fly them someday. 

Tangyuan dish by Qi Zhao

The main focus, however, is the food. My family and I would eat tangyuan, a traditional Chinese dessert made of rice flour. 

There are two types of tangyuan. First type of tangyuan is filled with a sweet-flavored stuffing and the other type is filled with cooked meat. I like observing this tradition because it makes me proud of my heritage and look deeply into the meaning of Chinese New Year as a whole.

In Chinese culture, with every New Year, it is usually someone’s “special year.” I was named “Tiger” for a reason; My birth year is the Year of the Tiger. 2021 is the year of the Ox. Therefore, anyone born in the year of the Ox shall have good fortune this year. This repeats every 12 years.

However this year is different thanks to COVID. I could only look at pictures and videos of my parents eating tangyuan. I could go home but my folks would make me quarantine and sanitize. I am not against those practices but I’d rather not go home to spare them the stress. They are part of a vulnerable demographic so I take personal responsibility to not risk their health.

Photo of two bowls of tangyuan, white buns.
Tangyuans, icon of the Lantern festival, by Qi Zhao

Looking beyond the pandemic era, I reflect on the past celebrations of the Lantern festival. I’ve been eating tangyuan all my life, from elementary to now. Celebrating this festival with extended family in China was even more fun. I wish to experience it again in the future. 

In the end, to my family, the Lantern festival is all about the food. I grew up eating tangyuan to conclude Chinese New Year celebrations and I will continue to do so for years to come. 

Feature Image by Andie Mau via Canva

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