Explore Lantern Festival Fun in Hainan

By Ding Xin / hicn.cn / Updated: 2021-02-26,18:07

The long-awaited Lantern Festival has just arrived!

Flower Exchange Festival

On the 15th day of the first lunar month, many events are held in Haikou, and the most unique one is the Flower Exchange Festival. In Haikou’s Fucheng area, the streets are filled with fragrant flowers and the sound of joyful laughter. Many young people in Haikou, with flowers in hand, go to the Fucheng area along Haifu Rd. to exchange flowers for the New Year celebration. It's also a great opportunity to make new friends!

Although Hainan's Lantern Festival has many fun activities, this year is special and people should pay attention to the prevention and control of the pandemic.

The Fat Chicken Contest

For many years, there has been a unique folk custom of holding a Fat Chicken Contest at the Lantern Festival in Lecheng, Bo’ao, Qionghai City. On the day of Lantern Festival every year, on both sides of an old street paved with bluestone bricks, an old-fashioned square table is set up in front of each house, on which a whole boiled chicken is placed. Then, local citizens select the best, fattest chicken in the village. The fat chickens are usually adorned with flowers in their beaks and a necklace around their necks, symbolizing a wealthy life. The family with the fattest chicken has clearly worked the hardest and done the best at raising their chickens, and thus wins the respect of the entire village.

Man-And-Puppet Show

Puppet shows are traditionally performed during Lantern Festival in Lingao. The man-and-puppet show dates back around 400 years and is rooted in Hainan Opera performance. Accompanied by traditional instruments, puppeteers and lifelike wooden puppets perform on stage together. Lingao puppet shows are said to have originated as a play performed by local villagers to pray for safety.

Man-and-puppet show

Try Aiba (a sticky rice cake with concentrated wormwood juice) and Lifan (a rice snack) instead of Tangyuan (sweet dumplings)

For the people of Ding'an, the main dish of the Lantern Festival is not dumplings but Aiba. Aiba is a snack made of glutinous rice flour wrappers with various kinds of fillings, including sesame, peanut, and desiccated coconut. Eating Aiba on the day of Lantern Festival is a symbol of good luck and happiness, an excellent harvest, and a joyful life.

In Tunchang, Qionghai and Wenchang,it is also customary to eat Lifan to celebrate Lantern Festival. This is a snack made by taking wild pineapple leaves or coconut leaves and weaving them into various shapes, then filling them with rice, and steaming. Different shapes have different auspicious meanings. For example, eating pillow-shaped Lifan means you will have a comfortable life, while devouring a gold ingot-shaped Lifan means you will have wealth, indicating that fortune is rolling in!

There were also many interesting and fun Lantern Festival activities in ancient Hainan!

Displaying Lanterns

Lantern Festival was also very popular in ancient Hainan and local houses were all decorated with beautiful lanterns. According to ancient books and records, the twelfth night of the lunar month, was called the day of “Lights On”. Wenchang City and the surrounding countryside became even more cheerful on the 15thday. On that day, each home was decorated with lights. People enjoyed eating“yuanxiao”, sweet round dumplings made of glutinous rice, and set up food sacrifices to worship their ancestors.

Making Lanterns

When it comes to making lanterns, the ancient craftsmen of Hainan were well known for their dexterity. For example, the “sky lanterns” recorded in ancient books were quite complex and required a number of steps to produce. “Hainan Folklore Overview" says that this lantern was mostly made of bamboo and oil paper, and measured 1.5 meters tall and 1 meter in diameter. The lanterns were also decorated with long tail commonly known as a "turkey". When the lantern rises up, it will look like a fire dragon dancing in the sky.

Happy Lantern Festival! What flavor of yuanxiao do you like to eat? Don’t forget to share with your family!

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