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The Legend of the Lantern Festival

Feb. 1, 2012

Key Learning Points (Preview):

元宵节 (Yuánxiāojié): n. Lantern Festival

 

放烟花 (fàngyānhuā): v. to set off fireworks

 

The "元宵节 (Yuánxiāojié) Lantern Festival" falls on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. On this day, activities such as "猜灯谜 (cāidēngmí) guessing the lantern riddles," "吃元宵 (chī yuánxiāo) eating sweet dumplings," and many others are held to celebrate. One such event is the custom of displaying lanterns in the streets, which is why the day is also known as "灯节 (dēngjié)." There is a very beautiful story to go along with this particular Chinese custom. The following is the legend of the Lantern Festival.

Long ago, fierce beasts roamed the Earth with black hearts and terrorized any creatures, or people living nearby. One day, the people of the land could take no more, and so banded together to fight off their cruel oppressors. Armed with sharpened weapons and a hope to save their homeland, they began a brutal retaliation. However, it just so happens that on that very day, the prized pet bird of a god lost its way and landed upon the Earth, directly in the sight of a particularly skilled human warrior. The man mistook the winged stranger as one of the menacing beasts and with a single blow, slew the bird without a second thought. When the god heard news of his pet's ill fate, he flew into a furious rage and declared the human race was to burn for its heinous crime. After overhearing her father's plot, the god's daughter took pity upon the humans and "决定 (juédìng) decided" to warn them of the plan. Upon learning the news, a wise old man amongst the people came up with an idea. He asked each family to first decorate their homes with colorful lanterns and then "放烟花 (fàngyānhuā) set off fireworks" on the Lunar calendar's 14th, 15th and 16th of January so that the vengeful god would mistake the explosions as the burning and suffering of mankind.

On the night of the Lunar calendar's 15th of January, the god looked down on the Earth with his bird's death still heavy on his mind. There he found man's world overtaken by a sea of red light and horrible sounds. "Three days of torment and burning death" he said. "Three days and mankind is finally good and dead."

Thanks to the clever old man's idea, the god was fooled by decorations and we were all saved from a horrible extinction.To honor the triumph, people decided to light lanterns on the "正月十五 (zhēngyuè shíwǔ) Lunar Calendar's 15th of January" each and every year. 

Key Learning Points

元宵节 (Yuánxiāojié): n. Lantern Festival

 

Example: 

       Yuánxiāojié lái wǒ jiā chī yuánxiāo hǎo ma?
Kate: 元宵节     来  我  家  吃  元宵         好    吗?

 

       Would you come to my house and eat sweet dumplings? 

       Hǎo a, tài bàng le.
Lucy: 好啊,太棒   了。

 

       Ok, sounds good. 

放烟花 (fàng yānhuā) : v. to set off fireworks

 

Example:

Wǎnshang guǎngchǎng shàng fàngyānhuā, wǒmen qù kàn ba.
晚上             广场               上          放烟花,    我们   去   看 吧。

 

Someone will be setting off fireworks in the square tonight, let’s go watch.

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