Chinese New Year, also known as spring festival, is not a one-day affair, instead running for a fortnight (a bit like our Christmas holidays), and is animated by age-old traditions.

t is a family festival and grandparents and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, in-laws, cousins and immediate family all come together to share days spent enjoying the peaceful, joyous atmosphere with a generous helping of good food. Everyone gets 15 days off, usually taking the opportunity to return to their family home.

After two weeks, the full moon appears and it’s lantern festival time (元宵节 yuánxiāo jié), wrapping up the celebrations: this year it falls on the 26th of February.

During this festival, it has been tradition, dating back to the Tang era (7th century AD), to light lanterns. Originally, it was just the emperor who would light a lantern to Buddha, while over the centuries, the ritual has become commonplace across the whole population as a way of making wishes.

Lighting lanterns is like a peace offering to the new year: you express wishes and entrust your hopes and dreams for the coming months to the lit lanterns.

Cities, parks, roads and windowsills are decked with lights, from simple lanterns to elaborate works of art. Lanterns often have riddles written on them and, in many cities, you can watch shows under the flickering lights, like the lion dance or firework displays, or take part in processions, lanterns in hand.

The traditional dish enjoyed during this festival are 元宵 yuánxiāo, stuffed sticky rice balls. The recipe varies from region to region, while the most popular fillings are rose petal jam, sesame paste, sweet red bean paste or jujube jam. They can be fried, boiled or steamed, and each cooking method gives them a different flavour. They are usually served in a soup. The round shape of these sweet treats symbolizes union, harmony and happiness.

We would like to finish off by wishing all our readers a happy year of the Ox! Remember, this is typically recognized as the year to be determined, to be true to your projects and, for those who believe in what they do, to continue in their efforts.