The Spring Festival holiday officially ends on the 15th day of the lunar new year, with the Lantern Festival. This is a day when you look at beautiful lanterns, answer some riddles written on lanterns and eat a special food called tang yuan.
And oh yeah, fireworks.
I think y’all know by now how much I hate fireworks. I’ve been complaining about them since my first Spring Festival in China. Miraculously, this year in Xiamen, it wasn’t so bad! Sure, there was a barrage on New Years Eve at midnight, but I was up and everyone went to watch them. There were a few the next day, but aside from some asshole setting out 3 loud fireworks, every 10 minutes at 1am one night (ensuring you got no sleep), it was a quiet Spring Festival.
But today, during Lantern Festival, the world outside was exploding. I was trying to teach class and had to talk over the constant barrage of firecrackers somewhere in town. When class ended, the fireworks were still going off. I went back to my room and tried to watch an episode of House of Cards but the fireworks were too distracting. I looked, and saw smoke not too far away, and thought I should go look.
“But when I get out there I’m sure they’ll stop,” I thought to myself. 5 minutes….10 minutes….15 minutes later they were still going strong. At 20 minutes I paused Netflix, grabbed my shoes and headed out to see what was going on.
This is what I found:
I took a few videos and I’ll try to edit something up to show you, because being in the midst of all this way absolutely crazy. But also totally fun.
At night I ate the special food of the holiday called tang yuan. These are glutenous rice balls with some sort of filling on the inside. Traditional flavors are sesame paste, red bean and peanut sauce. Modern flavors are strawberry, blueberry and I found a new line with tea flavors like jasmine and chrysanthemum.
You boil them in water and the outer glutenous rice layer gets all warm and chewy while the middle gets soft and liquidy. Sooo good.
So I had an interesting Lantern Festival. Turns out most of Xiamen was quiet with my district having the “honor” of all the firecrackers. And I’m glad I got to experience it. But can we stop now? Puh-leeease?!
The fireworks never end in China. In Taiwan it’s a little disappointing with the lack of fireworks though. And I never did like those sesame things for Lantern Festival–the flavor is good, but I don’t like the texture.
Yikes that is a lot of firecrackers! There wasn’t much evidence of it being the lantern festival here except outside the supermarket they were selling the tangyuan. I told hubby that I wanted to get some and then he volunteered to make it. He’s never made it or ate it before and he cooked it until it was mush. Oh well, it was still tasty. Happy Lantern Festival!
Hey Becky great post and wonderful photos! You saved me having to brave the noise and go look for myself (very hazardous with contact lenses).I also suffered from the noise in my classroom and wondered how the quiet Chinese people can revel in such a racket! Let’s hope next festival will be quieter.
Matt, do you not like the texture of the outside or the inside? If it’s the inside, I say give the other flavors a try. The peanut one is like Reese’s peanut butter sauce on an ice cream sundae. Or the fruit filled ones are like warm jam inside. If it’s the texture of the outside you don’t like then all I can offer is my condolences, haha.
Kim, I can’t believe he tried to make them himself. That’s pretty cool. Maybe I’ll give it a shot one year.
And Ruth, next year I hope I don’t have class during it because I want to walk around the whole time! Apparently, according to my WOX wechat group, they had statues of gods parading around the streets of Jimei too. Sadly I didn’t see that.
Wow. That is an unbelievable amount of fireworks. Does anyone have a dog in Xiamen? 4th of July around here the dogs go nuts!
I think it’s Darwin’s survival of the fittest here. All dogs in china that are scared of loud noises die of a heart attack as puppies and the only ones who survive long enough to breed are the ones not scared. Also, somehow all the dogs can easily cross the busy streets with insane traffic. I think the same principal applies there too. 😉
Darwin at work. Quite right!