Today is 元宵 yuán xiāo, the Lantern Festival marking the 15th day of the first lunar month and the last day of the Spring Festival (春节 chūn jié) which begins with the Chinese New Year on the 1st of the lunar month.
Today is the day for eating 汤圆 tāng yuán, sweet glutinous rice balls.
I was invited to take part in a celebration ceremony this morning in what is considered to be the city's most beautiful park. I half agree. It lies in the south of the city, surrounded by karst hill formations, but for me, the park itself is over-manicured. I like a bit of wild. That said, there are said to be around 700 species of wildlife, but most of that is on the inaccessible hills. There are pony rides for the kids and some of the locals are a bit on the wild side.
Although the park has beautiful flower displays and great trees, what I love most is the bamboo. Such a beautiful plant and so useful.
They had also hung the traditional red lanterns on some of the trees.
The main reason for us to be there was to be entertained by, at first, these three young men who bizarrely welcomed us with a rendition of Auld Lang Syne played on their bamboo wind instruments - I forget what they are called. They are wearing the traditional dress of the local Zhuang ethnic minority.
Then some local school kids sang for us and did a short play in English. Clap, clap, clap.
Then on to the main event. We were asked to form groups around one of four tables looking like this.
Appetising, huh? What we have here at top is a dough made from glutinous rice flour. Then below black sesame paste and ground peanut paste. We are about to learn to make Tangyuan, glutinous rice balls. Basically you take a lump of dough, roll it into a ball, then flatten it, then form a cup shape. add some of each or either of the two pastes and reform the ball to enclose the filling. Simple! Maybe not.
Some of us were more successful than others
These are supposed to be white, but you can see the filling - not good; its like having egg showing all over the outside of your scotch eggs.
Modesty Shame prevents me telling you which were mine.
At least one person seemed to think bigger is better! No! They are meant to be about an inch in diameter. Sometimes size does matter!
Finally the balls we had made were taken away to be boiled in the park's on-site restaurant. What we were served were identically sized balls with no filling showing. They are served in this sweet ginger soup. The local pigs probably had ours for lunch.
The orange-ish and purplish looking ones are made in the same way, but using red and black glutinous rice instead.
Fun was had, which was the whole point.