【3分飞艇_飞艇手机客户端_3分飞艇手机客户端】Feature: Families across China prepare sweet rice balls for Lantern Festival

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SHENYANG, March 2 (Xinhua) -- Families across China are preparing glutinous rice balls to celebrate the Lantern Festival, known as Yuanxiao in Chinese, the last day of the two-week Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations.

The Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar, when a full moon appears. The traditional treats, made of glutinous rice flour with a variety of sweet fillings, resemble a miniature full moon.

While glutinous rice balls are eaten all over China to celebrate the festival, the methods of making them are different in the north and south, and they also have different names.

"Yuanxiao" named after the festival when they are eaten, come from north China. They are made by soaking a dry filling in water and rolling it in glutinous rice flour. By repeating the movement of soaking and rolling, the balls gradually grow into a suitable size.

The preparation of "tangyuan," the southern style, is very different. Tangyuan are made by rolling rice flour dough into a ball and then stuffing it with a filling. The name sounds similar to "tuanyuan," which means reunion, and is why they have become a symbolic food for family meals as the Spring Festival celebration comes to an end.

While yuanxiao are usually only eaten at Lantern Festival, tangyuan are also served on winter solstice and January 1 in southern China. Both styles now can be bought premade in supermarkets at any time. In addition to boiling, they can also be fried or steamed.

"All the yuanxiao were freshly rolled when I was young and there often was a long queue outside the store. Back then there were very few snacks available and yuanxiao was our most anticipated treat during the Spring Festival," said Chen Meishi from Shenyang, northeast China's Liaoning Province. "I can still recall the childhood happiness of the first bite of yuanxiao."

"Now most of the yuanxiao are frozen. Eating yuanxiao is a family tradition for wishing for good luck," Chen added.

Although the ingredients are the same, the difference in preparation gives them a slightly different texture -- yuanxiao are more chewy while tangyuan are softer.

The traditional filling was a combination of black sesame, lard and sugar, but a variety of fillings such as chocolate, fruit, or even chilli, meat and vegetables have come onto the market in recent years.

"I bought hawthorn-filled rice balls this year. They are appetizing and easy to digest, therefore are suitable for the elderly," said Li Mengnan.

Although she lives in Shanghai, far from her family in northeast China, Sun Yixiao always prepares a bowl of glutinous rice ball at Lantern Festival. "I have been away from home every Lantern Festival, but it feels like home when I eat yuanxiao," she said.