The Lantern Festival is coming, and it's the day of the annual grand event “Crossing Tongji Bridge”! What should we pay attention to? And what else shall we do during the Lantern Festival? Here is some general knowledge and folk custom sorted out for you to know more about the Lantern Festival in advance!
Crossing Tongji Bridge is an annual grand cultural event in Foshan! This traditional folk custom has lasted for more than 400 years, which began in the late Ming and early Qing Dynasty. On every 15th and 16th day of the first lunar month, every family in Foshan would cross the Tongji Bridge with the elderly and children.
At Lantern Festival's evening, hundreds of thousands of people flock to the front of the Tongji Bridge with friends or families. Each of them hold a small windmill and walk slowly across the bridge, speaking “Crossing Tongji Bridge, Troubles Go Away” to pray for peace in the coming year.
"Three auspicious treasures" of crossing Tongji Bridge
The distinctive feature of “Crossing Tongji Bridge” is to bring windmills, wind bell, lettuce and other mascots.
Bringing lettuce is a common custom of crossing Tongji Bridge. Lettuce(生菜) stands for making money in Chinese. Tourists can take lettuce back home after crossing the bridge, which means taking money home.
Windmills implies smooth sailing and good luck, while wind bells have a good moral of bringing gospel after crossing the Tongji Bridge.
Taboos when crossing Tongji Bridge
People are expected to walk one-way route, from the head of bridge(north side) to the end of bridge (south side) without any return. Otherwise, it’s unlucky.
Taboo two: don't throw lettuce and paper money
Lettuce in Chinese means “making money” and they are commonly bought during crossing Tongji Bridge to wish a great fortune. Therefore, lettuce has become a necessity when crossing Tongji Bridge. Tourists can take lettuce back home after crossing the bridge, having the meaning of "bringing money home".
Any other old customs you know about the Lantern Festival except for crossing Tongji Bridge?
According to the folk custom, people would light thousands of lanterns on the 15th day of the first lunar month, so it got its name “Lantern Festival”.
Luo Yixing, an expert on literature and history in Foshan, says that in agricultural society, men went out to make money, and women were allowed to watch lanterns only during the Lantern Festival. Women who were not usually involved in social activities often took this opportunity to talk and meet with their loved ones, which is similar to Valentine’s Day today.
Most Foshan people during Lantern Festival have the habit of cooking sweet dumplings, which is an important custom. Folk experts say that when cooking sweet dumplings, they float on the water after opening the pot and remind people of a round of bright moon hanging in the clouds. Therefore, eating sweet dumplings expresses people's longing for family reunion.
As a Foshan local, you cannot miss the lantern riddles. Lantern riddle is a word game derived from the Lantern Festival. In ancient times, the riddle was pasted on the lantern for guesswork, which gradually formed a unique folk culture popular among the old and young. Don’t forget to have a try of lantern riddles. You may get a big prize!
Lion dance is Foshan’s excellent folk art. Whenever the Lantern Festival or other celebration, people will cheer with lion dance. This custom originated in the period of the Three Kingdoms, and began to prevail in the north and South Dynasties. According to the legend, it was first introduced from the western regions and it has a history of one thousand years.
The annual “Crossing Tongji Bridge” is coming! Don’t hesitate to participate in this grand cultural event together with you families and friends!