Wondering what all the brightly colored lanterns are about? The Yuanxiao Festival (Spring Lantern Festival in English), takes place on the 15th day of the first lunar month, which is today.

The Yuanxiao Festival dates back to the Han dynasty and may have started as a way to celebrate the days getting longer or as a Buddhist ritual.

We love the festival not just because of its colorful variety of dances that include dragons, lanterns and lions on stilts with drums, but because it’s the time of year to eat yuanxiao dumplings (also known as tangyuan). These are small dumpling balls made with glutinous rice flour and filled with sesame, rose petals, bean paste, jujube paste, dried fruit, walnut meat and sugar.

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Photo credit: trendnewsamerica

What’s the story behind these dumplings?

The word for these dumplings tangyuan, sounds very much like the Mandarin word for reunion, tuanyuan so people have come to eat these glorious glutinous rice balls to symbolize harmony and unity.

Want to try some tangyuan for dessert? Just remember that the dumpling filling is HOT so please be careful. Otherwise, you might burn the roof of your mouth with molten sesame paste.

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Tang yuan with sesame filling; photo credit: whatsonningbo

Where should you go to have this dish? You can usually find tangyuan served in a traditional Chinese dessert shop. One place we’ve heard about that we’ve been meaning to try next time we’re over on the East side of Hong Kong Island is Fook Yuen. If you get there before we do, tell us what you think in the comment section below.

Fook Yuen

Shop I-1, G/F, Lei Do Building, 7 Fuk Yuen Street, North Point

Tel: 3106 0129

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