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元宵节 Lantern Festival

元宵节是农历正月的第十五天,这是新年的第一次满月,象征着和睦和团圆。元宵节是春节的一个重要组成部分,也象征着春节长假的正式结束。

Lantern Festival falls on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. This is the first full moon of the new year, symbolizing unity and perfection. Lantern Festival is an important part of Spring Festival , and marks the official end of the long holiday。

关于元宵节的来历有很多传说。

There are many legends concerning the origins of Lantern Festival。

有一个传说是这样的,在古代,有一位神界天鹅闯入人间被猎手误杀。天界最高的神玉皇大帝因此发誓为这只天鹅报仇。他开始制定计划,派出一支天兵天将于农历正月十五来到人间,命令他们火烧所有的人和动物。但是其他神仙并不赞同这一计划,他们冒着生命危险提醒人间的人们。结果,在正月十五这一天前后,每一个家庭在门外挂起灯笼,并燃放烟花爆竹,给天兵天将造成各家各户起火的假象。通过这种方式,人们成功骗过了玉皇大帝,人类也因此逃过灭绝的危险。

According to one legend, once in ancient times, a celestial swan came into the mortal world where it was shot down by a hunter. The Jade Emperor, the highest god in Heaven, vowed to avenge the swan. He started making plans to send a troop of celestial soldiers and generals to Earth on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, with orders to incinerate all humans and animals. But the other celestial beings disagreed with this course of action, and risked their lives to warn the people of Earth. As a result, before and after the fifteenth day of the first month, every family hung red lanterns outside their doors and set off firecrackers and fireworks, giving the impression that their homes were already burning. By successfully tricking the Jade Emperor in this way, humanity was saved from extermination。

另外一个传说发生在汉武帝时期。一位名叫元宵的宫女因身处深宫,没法在正月十五与父母团聚尽孝。为此,她欲跳井自尽。为了帮助元宵姑娘为父母尽孝,智者东方朔想出了一个计划。他告诉汉武帝,天界最高的神——玉皇大帝下令在正月十六火烧长安都。为了拯救长安城,汉武帝问东方朔该怎么办。东方朔回答说火神最爱大红灯笼。他建议在街道上悬挂大红灯笼,皇帝、皇后、六宫嫔妃和朝廷大臣都要外出观赏灯笼。这样,火神的注意力就会被分散,灾难也就可以避免了。皇帝采纳了东方朔的建议,当所有人都外出赏灯时,元宵得以有机会溜出皇宫,和家人团圆。

According to another legend, during the time of Emperor Han Wudi of the Han Dynasty , a palace woman named Yuanxiao was prevented from carrying out her filial duty of visiting her parents on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. Distraught, she said she would kill herself by jumping into a well. In order to help Yuanxiao fulfill her duty as a filial daughter, the scholar Dongfang Shuo came up with a scheme. He told Emperor Han Wudi that the Jade Emperor, the highest god in Heaven, had ordered the Fire God to burn down the capital city of Chang'an on the sixteenth day of the first lunar month. Anxious to find a way to save his city, the emperor asked Dongfang Shuo what he should do. Dongfang Shuo replied that the Fire God loved red lanterns more than anything. He advised that the streets be hung with red lanterns, and the emperor, empress, concubines, and court officials come out of the palace to see them. In this way, the Fire God would be distracted and disaster averted. The emperor followed Dongfang Shuo's advice, and while everyone was out viewing the lanterns, Yuanxiao was able to sneak out of the palace and be reunited with her parents。

虽然上述的传说很神奇,但可以确定的是元宵节的起源必定跟古代人们使用火来庆祝节日、躲避灾难有关。元宵节活动包括逃避邪神,且是在晚上庆祝,所以很自然地,火就扮演了很重要的角色。随着时间的流逝,元宵节逐渐演变为今天的形式。东汉时期,佛教传入中国,皇帝下令,在正月第一个满月的晚上,必须点亮灯笼敬佛,这也使元宵节更增添了一份意义。而在道教里,元宵节是与掌管天界和火的元神紧密相连的,因为他们就诞生在正月十五。

Although the above stories are quite fantastical, it is sure that the origins of Lantern Festival are related to ancient humanity's use of fire to celebrate festivals and avert disaster. Since Lantern Festival involves making offerings to the deities and is celebrated at night, it is natural that fire would play an important role. Over time, Lantern Festival gradually evolved into its present form. When Buddhism was introduced to China during the Eastern Han Dynasty , the emperor decreed that on the night of the full moon of the first lunar month, lanterns should be lit to honor Buddha, adding yet another level of significance to Lantern Festival. And according to Daoism, Lantern Festival is associated with the primordial deities of Heaven and Fire, who were born on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month。



1、吃元宵Eating Yuanxiao

元宵是元宵节的特色食品。据说,元宵是因汉武帝时期的一位名叫元宵的宫女而得名。元宵是一种带馅儿的甜食,是由糯米粉加上甜的馅料制成。元宵节就是因此食品得名。元宵的烹制方法非常简单,将元宵倒入装满沸水的锅中煮几分钟就可以了。

Yuanxiao is the special food for the Lantern Festival. It is believed that Yuanxiao is named after a palace maid, Yuanxiao, of Emperor Wu Di of the Han Dynasty. Yuanxiao is a kind of sweet dumpling, which is made with sticky rice flour filled with sweet stuffing. And the Festival is named after the famous dumpling. It is very easy to cook - simply dump them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes - and eaten as a dessert。

吃元宵(由糯米粉制成的甜馅儿食物)是元宵节一个特别传统,而元宵节也因这种食物得名。元宵的另一种叫法是汤圆,字面意思就是“煮熟的圆球状食品”。

Eating yuanxiao (sweet dumplings made with glutinous rice flour) is one of the special traditions of Lantern Festival. Lantern Festival is also called Yuanxiao Festival. Another name for yuanxiao is tangyuan, which literally means "boiled spheres."

2、猜灯谜Guessing lantern riddles

猜灯谜也是元宵节活动的一个基本组成部分。灯笼的所有者将谜语写在一张纸条上,然后将纸条展示在灯笼上。如果赏灯者猜出谜语,就将纸条取出,然后找灯笼所有者确认答案。打对的话,他们就可以领取一份小礼品。这个活动起源于宋朝(960——1279)。猜灯谜活动极富情趣和智慧,因此在全社会广受欢迎。

"Guessing lantern riddles"is an essential part of the Festival. Lantern owners write riddles on a piece of paper and post them on the lanterns. If visitors have solutions to the riddles, they can pull the paper out and go to the lantern owners to check their answer. If they are right, they will get a little gift. The activity emerged during people's enjoyment of lanterns in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). As riddle guessing is interesting and full of wisdom, it has become popular among all social strata。

3、看烟火Watch fireworks

元宵节的白天会有舞龙舞狮、划旱船、扭秧歌、踩高跷。而在晚上,除了各种大型灯会,灿烂的焰火也是一幅美丽的画卷。很多家庭在春节时会留下一部分烟花等着元宵节放。有的地方政府甚至会组织焰火晚会。当新年的第一轮圆月升上夜空时,人们都会因燃放的烟火和空中的明月而兴奋。

In the daytime of the Festival, performances such as a dragon lantern dance, a lion dance, a land boat dance, a yangge dance, walking on stilts and beating drums while dancing will be staged. On the night, except for magnificent lanterns, fireworks form a beautiful scene. Most families spare some fireworks from the Spring Festival and let them off in the Lantern Festival. Some local governments will even organize a fireworks party. On the night when the first full moon enters the New Year, people become really intoxicated by the imposing fireworks and bright moon in the sky。