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Redpacket.com/Singapore/Yuan Xioa falls on the fifteenth day of the Lunar month. It marks the conclusion of celebrations for Lunar New Year. There is a story behind it.

During the reign of Emperor Han Wu Di of the Han dynasty, there was a reputable high-ranking minister, Dongfang Shuo, well known for his wit and compassion.

One day while he was strolling in the palace garden, he heard a wailing. It was from a palace maid, Yuan Xiao. At that time, palace maids had to attend to palace duties throughout the whole year. Thus they were unable to return home for family reunion. Yuan Xiao had worked in the palace for a number of years. She missed her family so much that she could not hold back her tears.

On learning her plight, Dongfang Shuo came out with a plan.

The next day, he informed Emperor Wu Di a rumour that the Supreme Deity of Heaven had ordered that the city to be set ablaze. God of Fire was to carry out the Deity’s command on the sixteenth day of the first month of the New Year. The Emperor was anxious on hearing the news. Dongfang Shuo claimed to have a solution.

The day before the sixteenth, that is, on the fifteenth day, every household was to display a lit red lantern, and shoot up lots of firecrackers into the air. Everybody, including palace maid, must be out on the streets. This was to create as much noise and mess as possible to give an illusion that the city was already in flames. God of Fire would be deceived into thinking that since the city was already burning; there would be no need for him to work. The God of Fire loved glutinous rice balls, known as tangyuan. Since Yuan Xiao made the best tangyuan, Dongfang Shuo suggested that Yuan Xiao should make some glutinous rice balls to offer to the God of Fire.

Rather than taking the risk of the city being set in flames, and seeing that there was no harm in Dongfang Shuo’s suggestions, the Emperor took Dongfang Shuo's advice and ordered everybody, including palace maids, to be out on the streets on the fifteenth day. Yuan Xiao was thus able to take this opportunity to meet up with her family.

Emperor Han Wu Di, on learning that his people enjoyed themselves so much, dedicated the fifteenth day to be a yearly event.

Since then, that yearly event has become a joyful festival, marked by a wide variety display of lanterns, fireworks, riddle-guessing contests, and a feast of tangyuan. This occasion is named after Yuan Xiao, the palace maid, thus Yuan Xiao Jie, or The Lantern Festival.

 
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