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By Veronica Brezina-Smith  – Reporter, Tampa Bay Business Journal

A bright yellow vest clings onto my blazer and a group of plane spotters and the airport staff stand out on the runway awaiting Copa Airlines’ arrival from Panama City with one of the most modern aircrafts in the market.

“Get ready,” the airport media relations team members say, as onlookers prepare cameras to snap the moment the blue and white plane lands during a hot Thursday afternoon.

Veronica Brezina@TBBJVeroni

@CopaAirlines new Max9 airplane coming in @FlyTPA @TBBJnewsroom

Sept 2018

The plane was rolling in as if it was a celebrity strutting down the red carpet. The airport conducted a water arch salute, where water cannons spray at the same time, creating an arch the plane passes under. The celebratory arch is done rarely at the airport, as the airport staff said it has to be a major inaugural flight or for a long-term pilot who is retiring for one of the airport’s big carriers.

“It’s the beginning of a new era, introducing the first Boeing (NYSE: BA) 737 MAX9. It’s a symbol of pride for the airline, Panama and the Copa team members,” Fernando Fondevila Leyton, Copa’s regional manager for North America, told Tampa Bay Business Journal during the celebration of the plane landing in Tampa.

Copa Airlines (NYSE: CPA) has been offering service to the Tampa airport since 2013 and recently the airline started increasing its service from Tampa to Panama.

“Tampa is a key market for Copa,” Leyton said. “It’s been a successful destination for Copa Airlines. It allows us to operate the only nonstop service from Tampa International to Panama City, our Hub of the Americas, and from Panama beyond with more than 55 destinations, connecting Central America and the Caribbean with the Tampa community.”

However, the new MAX9, 166-seat plane elevates the airline’s existing fleet with spacious and luxurious seats and technology.

The business class cabin, dubbed the Business Class Dream, has lie-flat seats, 16-inch touch screens, remotes, USB ports and more space for storage.

Copa also introduced a new section for the economy class that has 24 seats that offer more legroom, touch screens and USB ports as well.

Additionally, its engineering is even more superb as it has a new LEAP-18 engine, which makes it 40 percent quieter and one of the most advanced in the world.

This MAX9 represents a big change for the airline, which will be used on the longest routes of Copa’s network of its 80 destinations.

“It actually allows us to reach other corners of the continent and continue to promote Panama as the top destination,” Leyton said.

Copa will add four more MAX9 planes between October and December, eight more in 2019 and an additional nine in 2020. The total number will grow to 71 in the coming years.

He said aircraft is going to also fly to San Francisco in early 2019.

By   – Reporter, Tampa Bay Business Journal

For more photos  please see https://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/news/2018/09/21/copa-airlines-lands-first-international-flight.

 

7 things you have to know before you visit Belize

A natural attraction (Picture: Getty)  article by Ellie Hattersley   https://metro.co.uk/2018

 

Beautiful Belize, a small country in the northern part of South America, sure packs a punch. Despite its relatively diminutive size, it manages to fit in some of the world’s best beaches, the second biggest coral reef in the world, a unique natural phenomenon, and some seriously impressive ancient ruins. 8 things to know before you go to the Czech Republic And honestly, it’s worth going just to spend some time sprawled upon the sands of Caye Caulker, perhaps its most famous island. Here are seven things you should know before you go to Belize.

  1. It’s the only Central American country with English as an official language. Due to its history as a British colony, the majority of people in Belize speak English, alongside Spanish and Creole. Belize became independent in 1981 and changed its name from British Honduras in 1973.
  2. The capital is, surprisingly, not Belize City. Though Belize City was the capital of the country but after the hugely destructive hurricane Hattie hit in 1961, plans were conceived to move the capital inland. The newer capital is called Belmopan. However, Belize City is still the country’s cultural and commercial capital, and also hosts the country’s only major airport.
  3. It’s got a whole bunch of Mayan ruins Mayan ruins. 7 things you have to know before you visit Belizeat Cerros (Picture: Getty) More than 900, in fact. They are spread out across the country, and many can be reached easily from Belize City.
  4. The second biggest coral reef in the world lies off its coast. After the Great Barrier Reef, Belize’s barrier reef is the largest in the world. It stretches more than 180 miles along Belize’s Caribbean coast, and supports wildlife as wide ranging as West Indian manatees and American crocodiles. It has plenty of fish, too.
  5. And the most bewildering natural attraction in the Great Blue Hole. 7 things you have to know before you visit Belize (Picture: Getty) The Great Blue Hole is the biggest sea sinkhole in the world, at a depth of 407ft. It’s a diver’s dream, with crystal clear visibility, and even snorkelers can spot nurse sharks and reef sharks patrolling its outer rim.
  6. It has more than 450 small islands, called cayes. 7 things you have to know before you visit Belize Caye Caulker. (Picture: Getty)
  7. Cayes are low-lying, sand-based islands, located at the surface of a coral reef. Caye Caulker is probably the most famous of these, but they are all pretty paradisiacal.
  8. Belize has the lowest population density in Central America. With only 382,000 people, and just 37 people per square mile, it’s little wonder that Belize’s population density is the lowest in Central America. But, of course, the population numbers are considerably boosted by the tourist crowds.

 

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2018/05/01/7-things-you-have-to-know-before-you-visit-belize-7488826/?ito=cbshare   Ellie Hattersley

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

5 Best Caribbean Islands to Live in 2018 Revealed

Great article-some of my favorite Caribbean Islands made the list including St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic and Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Long ago when it was affordable, I lived on St John & St Thomas & I love it. Going on a trade mission the Dominican Republic in October 2018.

According to a new report from International Living, based on affordability, value, safety and lifestyle, these five islands made their list of the Top 5 Caribbean islands to live in 2018.

Vacation News » Miami Edition | By Monsef Rachid |2018  http://www.worldpropertyjournal.com/

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Ambergris Caye, Belize

Over the last few decades, expats have flocked to English-speaking Ambergris Caye, Belize, and there are good reasons for its popularity. (Among them the fact that in 2013 and 2014, TripAdvisor readers ranked Ambergris as the best island in the world.)

Ambergris and the small nearby islands are not overly developed, which means they’ve maintained a laidback vibe. Ambergris is Belize’s center for ocean sports during the day and for partying at night. In view of all this, it’s easy to understand why real estate prices have risen, especially for beachfront property.

Getting to Ambergris is easy because both of Belize’s domestic airlines–Tropic Air and Maya Island Air–have frequent flights to the island from Belize City. You can also reach Ambergris by water taxi.

San Pedro is the major population center on Ambergris, a town of roughly 18,000 part- and full-time residents. The once-sandy main streets are now paved. But golf carts are still expats’ favorite means of transportation from home to the beach, or to the dozens of restaurants, nightclubs, and friendly mom-and-pop stores.

Surprising to many, moving to Belize is easy–U.S. currency is accepted, credit cards are widely used and well-known U.S. brands are available too; they’re expensive, but substitutes are easy to find.

After years of 16-hour days as owners and operators of a Victorian B&B and cupcake shop in Richmond, Virginia, the easy-going lifestyle of San Pedro is just what Dawn Schick and her husband, Albert, were looking for.  And in 2010, they made the move.

“We’d been vacationing here several times a year for more than six years and decided this would be our eventual retirement home. But after years of hard work we thought, why wait until ‘someday,’? Why not take the plunge right now?” Dawn explains.

“We love being outdoors and the year-round warm weather lets us go snorkeling or paddle-boarding anytime we want. The marine life here is amazing. Swimming alongside rays, tropical fish, and turtles is like being in another world. We also love that it’s not touristy here.

“Life on the island moves at a slower pace, and that’s just fine with us.”

For between $2,700 and $2,900 per month, a couple can enjoy a comfortable retirement in Ambergris Caye–a budget that includes the cost of a house or apartment rental. If you own your own home on the island outright, then expats report it’s possible for a couple to live quite comfortably on less than $2,000 a month.

Roatán, Honduras

On the English-speaking Bay Island of Roatán, 30 miles off the coast of Honduras, you will find what is arguably the best-value island real estate in the region.

For less than $175,000, you could have a two-bedroom Caribbean home right on the water in a quiet neighborhood with no tourists–your own private getaway. If you stayed just part of the year, you could rent your place out to help cover your holding costs.

If you lived on Roatán, you’d have the sound of gentle waves and the rustle of palm fronds to wake you in the mornings. Looking out your window, you’d see clear, blue skies and the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. You could occupy yourself with a swim…enjoy a cup of coffee on your deck…or just sit back in your Adirondack chair, warm up in the sun, and take in the view of your own private stretch of beach…

On this tropical island, beachfront lots can be had for under $100,000. We’re talking established developments, with amenities like a community pool and/or shared or private docks. Utilities are in place. Construction costs are reasonable, and you can build a home to your specs.

There are also plenty of turnkey condos for well under $200,000–in resort communities on the beach. And if you’re okay with walking a few minutes to the water, or setting up on a hillside with views, you’ll pay even less for a lot, home, or condo.

This is an island where “normal” people can buy a vacation home or permanent digs to live out their sunny, low-cost, and comfortable retirement. The infrastructure is good and getting better all the time, with a new power plant online and the recent opening of a hospital with specialist care and a 24-hour emergency room.

It’s still out of the mainstream, at least compared to other Caribbean island getaways, and that has kept prices affordable for real estate and day-to-day costs. A couple could live well on $2,000 to $2,500–that includes all expenses.

And it’s simply a beautiful place to look at, thanks to the tall, jungle-covered mountains, white-sand beaches, and blue Caribbean (turquoise within the reef and a deep azure beyond it). Living here, you’ll have no shortage of things to do, with plenty of parties, sunset happy hours, water sports, and other fun.

Roatán boasts an international airport–with regular flights in and out it’s accessible and it’s quick and easy to see family back home.

“The one word that always comes to mind when asked how I like living here is ‘contentment,'” says Ann Winters of her retirement on Roatán. “I have never felt so content anywhere.”

Ann and her husband Ron have much to be content about. The couple are settled into a three-bedroom house set amid lush vegetation, overlooking the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea.

“I immediately loved the sounds and smells of Roatán,” says Ann of what drew her to the island. “The sound of the ocean soothes me. I love the smell of the salt on the breeze and the way the air smells so fresh after a rain. I love the cooking smells in the downtown mercado (market) and along the streets of West End, the scents coming from the open-air fruit and vegetable stands and the fish and meat markets. The flowers in my gardens that attract hummingbirds and butterflies.”

Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Legend has it that an ancient Maya Goddess of childbirth, identified Isla de Mujeres as a sacred place. The name Isla de Mujeres means Island of Women.

It was the Spaniards in the 16th century who decided that Island of Women would, therefore, be a fitting name for this tropical paradise where they noted hundreds of idols and carvings of women.

Today Isla Mujeres, eight miles off Cancún on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, is a retreat for tourists and retirees alike and offers easy living in the sun year-round.

You can own a one-bedroom, two-bathroom penthouse condo with a view from $230,000 or rent a one-bedroom place for $700 to $1000 a month, according to local expats.

When it was time to retire back in 2008, Lawrie Lock and his wife Lynda drove from their long-time home in Canada’s Okanagan Valley to Isla Mujeres.

“We live on the windward side of the island, facing the open ocean,” says Lynda. “That’s where all the action is. We often see pods of dolphins feeding just offshore and sea turtles basking right on the surface.

“We’d vacationed on the western side of Mexico for many years. But when we discovered the Caribbean side back in 2002…Wow! The turquoise and green water, fresh sea food, and the friendly islanders here on Isla Mujeres, along with the warm weather, were too much to resist.

“We have a large circle of friends. Some live here full-time and others come for the winter months. Winter is our busiest social time and summer is our wind-down, re-group time.”

The island enjoys a warm tropical climate (low to mid-80s F for most of the year) and a laidback vibe; golf carts are preferred to cars as the main means of transport.

Every winter, the permanent population of around 13,000 is joined by thousands of snowbirds fleeing colder weather up north. At four miles long and less than a half-mile wide, this tiny Caribbean island is connected to the mainland by high-speed ferry service that leaves every 30 minutes during daylight hours.

There is plenty to do on Isla Mujeres. Naturally, water activities top the list as the nearby reef offers amazing opportunities for scuba, fishing, swimming, boating, and snorkeling. There’s even an underwater museum set up by an English sculptor to explore, if the local sea life isn’t enough. And of course, there is the seasonal migration of whale sharks which draws many to view and swim with them.

Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic

Most Americans have never heard of the little beach town of Las Terrenas in the Dominican Republic’s northeast, on the Samana Penninsula. That’s understandable–it’s a spot better known among Europeans. But it offers one of the Caribbean’s best-value escapes today.

Here you’ll find 19 miles of public beaches, and palm trees swaying in the breeze. And compared to other Caribbean islands, property in this little corner of the D.R. is a roaring bargain.

French and Italian vacationers have been coming here for decades–vacationing and then coming back to stay. Along with the tang of saltwater in the air and the scent of fresh-cut coconuts, you’ll smell French bread and croissants baking. The Italian influence is strong, too, with rich Italian gelato on offer and strong, Italian-style coffee. There’s steak, sushi, and grilled seafood, too.

Las Terrenas has everything going for it that a Caribbean island escape should. It’s not overdeveloped–there are no mega-resorts here, just boutique hotels. It has great dining, stunning scenery at every point, and a vibrant expat community.

The most incredible thing about it, though, is the real estate prices. A one-bedroom, one-bathroom loft apartment can be had for as little as $99,500.

A couple can live in this tropical haven for around $2,000 a month, although most choose to spend closer to $3,000 a month.

When Dan Williams decided to retire there, he had been working for eight years as an environmental engineer for the Missouri state government. At the time, he was 57 years old, single, and longed to retire to the beach.

“The country is a mini-continent, with a wide variety of terrain, from oceans to the highest mountains in the Caribbean, and everything in between,” he says. “The climate is wonderful. It is close to the U.S. and is economical. Weighed in the balance, it is the ideal country for me.”

After a few months in Sosúa on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, Dan decided to tag along with a friend who was taking a road trip to Las Terrenas.

Dan was enchanted and decided to relocate there. “I loved the beach, the vibe, the natural beauty, and the European flavor of the place,” he says. “It seemed like a hidden Shangri-La.”

Corn Islands, Nicaragua

The Corn Islands are two little dots of paradise just 50 miles off Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast–a retirement nirvana with white sands, gently swaying palms and blue waters where English is the official language.

Big Corn–about four square miles in size and with maybe 6,000 inhabitants–is just 10 miles (or a 30-minute boat ride) from Little Corn, one-fourth the size of Big Corn in both land mass and population.

On Little Corn, there are no roads, just a three-foot-wide sandy walkway…so no vehicles allowed.

It’s a truly undiscovered, little-developed escape. Many say it’s like the Bahamas or Grand Cayman 30 or 40 years ago.

If you’re looking for a “throw-back” getaway, you won’t find a better one in the Caribbean. Here a custom-built home with an ocean view a 15-minute walk to town and beaches can be had for $150,000. And that’s fully furnished.

“With no vehicle traffic on Little Corn and lots of hotels, hostels and restaurants, it’s fun to walk around and see what there is to see,” says Bonnie Hayman, IL Nicaragua Correspondent. “This is the place where the tourists go.

“Big Corn is more adventurous with fewer tourists. Many hire a taxi to travel from one gorgeous beach to another sampling the wonderful “Islander” food like coconut bread and rondon (fish/seafood coconut stew). Either way, a fabulous time is to be had on the Caribbean side of Nicaragua.”

The Corn Islands aren’t for everyone. Supplies that aren’t locally grown or pulled from the waters must be shipped in. With small exception, restaurants tend to serve variations of the same dishes.

“The cost of food on the island is slightly higher than on the ‘main,’ as islanders call mainland Nicaragua,” says Mike Hopkins who lived on Big Corn while housesitting on the island. “However, in general, costs are still less than U.S. prices. Weekly, my food costs averaged about $30. I also ate at some local restaurants, where meals and a couple of drinks ranged between $15 and $20. My total food and drink cost for the three-month period was approximately $610.”

The islands have a rustic charm, perfect for those looking for an off-the-beaten-track retirement.  The healthy reef is ideal for scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, and lobstering. With friendly locals and very few tourists an authentic island experience is ensured.

Two Islands not making the 2018 list

The beauty and tropical appeal of St. Thomas and Grand Bahama are impossible to deny. However, they can be costly.

“While we at International Living have nothing against St. Thomas or Grand Bahama–they’re thoroughly ‘discovered’ and that translates to more expensive,” says Jennifer Stevens, Executive Editor of International Living. “If money is no object, you might well like the polished escape either island can provide. But our list of 5 better-value picks in the Caribbean points you to lesser-known retreats where you’ll find a more laid-back vibe and lower costs.”

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Located in the Caribbean, the U.S. Virgin Islands is made up of over 60 islands–most of them uninhabited. The three most populated, and most visited, are St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix.

The appeal of these tropical islands is the mixture of the exotic and the recognizable–an island paradise with modern comforts and a balance of Caribbean culture and American practicality.

While St. Thomas may be a nice place to live, the International Living report says “avoid” due to the high cost of living. Apartments rent for about $2,000 a month and to buy a two-bedroom house in a good neighborhood will cost about $285,000-plus.

Grand Bahama Island, the Bahamas

The Bahamas is often thought of as a paradise–an upscale group of islands with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

And the Bahamas has many advantages–friendly to newcomers, there’s no foreign language to cope with, crime is relatively low, and the islands are positioned just off the Florida coast.

But the bad news is that properties aren’t cheap. Medium-sized residences in exclusive gated communities with ocean views often cost more than $2 million.

Grand Bahama is the closest major Bahamian island to the U.S.–about 55 miles off the Florida coast. It has become a haven for beach-lovers as well as divers, fishermen, golfers, and sports enthusiasts of all kinds. It’s also a prime destination for people who enjoy world-class shopping.

But living here costs a premium as it’s between 30% and 50% more expensive than in the U.S.

This a great checklist to read & keep if you plan to move from one country to another. Take a deep breath, tackle one thing at a time and remind yourself that you can do it!

from    https://www.justlanded.com/english/United-States/USA-Guide/Moving/Before-you-move?sf154660322=1

Preparing everything to move to another country involves much more than simply packing. If you do not plan in advance, you may have many difficulties when you arrive (or even be refused to enter the country).

 

from   https://www.justlanded.com/english/United-States/USA-Guide/Moving/Before-you-move?sf154660322=1

 

My heart, hopes, prayers & love go out to Mexico and the many island countries including Barbuda, Puerto Rico, St John, St Thomas, St Croix, Cuba, Dominican Republic, the British Virgin Islands & others that have been hit so terribly by the hurricanes & earthquake.

 

 

What a great opportunity to make business connections in the Bordeaux region of France while enjoying the beautiful landscape, food, wine and, of course, the graciousness of the people!

If you are interested in being of part of this adventure, you must act quickly-the deadline for reserving your place on a trip of lifetime is AUGUST 30th. 

 

Please contact Marina for more information.

 

 

 

Originally International Women’s Day was called International Working Women’s Day. It is celebrated on March 8th every year. The first time it was celebrated was In New York on February 28, 1909, YES 1909!!, to remember the 1908 strike of the International Ladies Garment Worker’s Union in New York City.

In August 1910, an International Women’s Conference was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. 100 women from 17 countries met to promote equal rights. The following year on March 19, 1911 International Women’s Day  was celebrated by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Women demanded that they be given the right to vote and to hold public office. They also protested against employment sex discrimination. (Well, some things haven’t changed). For many years it was predominately celebrated in socialist & communist countries. Hmmm…

Not until my generation was it embraced by the USA & much of the world. In 1975 The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day because it was also International Women’s Year. 1975!! Then in 1977 the United Nations invited its member to declare March 8th as the United Nations Day for women’s right and world peace.

“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” – Happy International Women’s Day!

San Diego Air & Space Museum 7

I am so excited. After a long 58 year break, the St Petersburg Yacht Club Habana Sailing Race has been re-instated this year. The fleet of boats left the St Petersburg harbor this morning at 10am and will sail 284 nautical miles to arrive at the Hemingway Marina in Havana on Thursday, March 2nd. On Saturday there will a Nautical Parade & the Torreon de la Chorrera Regatta to Morro Castle.

castillo-3

photo by Annalisa Weller July 2015

The Micara, a Cuban boat with all Cuban sailors, is among the 81 yachts & 550 sailors.

In 1929 George S. Gandy, Jr., a well known yachtsman and son of the builder of the first bridge across Tampa Bay, sailed his 36′ ketch Cynosure to Havana.  There he met with Commodore Rafael Posso of the Habana Yacht Club and the St. Petersburg-Habana yacht race was born.

The first race started off The Pier in St. Petersburg March 30, 1930 and finished at Morro Castle at the Habana harbor entrance. Eleven boats participated and was won by the schooner Haligonian owned by Houston Wall of Tampa.  The race was sailed over the same route from 1930 through 1959 with the exception of three years of World War II, when the race was cancelled, and 1958 when political conditions in Cuba required the fleet to go to Miami. The last race in 1959 race had 37 yachts participating.

Glad to see it back! Wishing you smooth sailing.

The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month, and traditionally ends the Chinese New Year period. In 2017 it falls on February 11.

from  http://www.chinahighlights.com/festivals/lantern-festival.htm

Lantern Festival Facts

  • Popular Chinese name: 元宵节 Yuánxiāojié /ywen-sshyaoww jyeah/ ‘first night festival’
  • Alternative Chinese name: 上元节 Shàngyuánjié /shung-ywen-jyeah/ ‘first first festival’
  • Date: Lunar calendar month 1 day 15 (February 11, 2017)
  • Importance: ends China’s most important festival, the Spring Festival
  • Celebrations: enjoying lanterns, lantern riddles, eating tangyuan a.k.a. yuanxiao (ball dumplings in soup), lion dances, dragon dances, etc.
  • History: about 2,000 years
  • Greeting: Happy Lantern Festival! 元宵节快乐!Yuánxiāojié kuàilè! /ywen-sshyaoww-jyeah kwhy-luh/

Lantern Festival Dates from 2017 to 2019

The Lantern Festival is on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month (always between February 5 and March 7).

Year Lantern Festival
2017 February 11
2018 March 2
2019 February 19

The Lantern Festival is Very Important

lanternslanterns

The Lantern Festival is the last day (traditionally) of China’s most important festival, Spring Festival (春节 Chūnjié /chwn-jyeah/ a.k.a. the Chinese New Year festival). After the Lantern Festival, Chinese New Year taboos are no longer in effect, and all New Year decorations are taken down.

The Lantern Festival is also the first full moon night in the Chinese calendar, marking the return of spring and symbolizing the reunion of family. However, most people cannot celebrate it with their families, because there is no public holiday for this festival.

When Did the Lantern Festival Begin?

The Lantern Festival can be traced back to 2,000 years ago.

In the beginning of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220), Emperor Hanmingdi was an advocate of Buddhism. He heard that some monks lit lanterns in the temples to show respect to Buddha on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. Therefore, he ordered that all the temples, households, and royal palaces should light lanterns on that evening.

This Buddhist custom gradually became a grand festival among the people.

How Do Chinese Celebrate the Lantern Festival?

0colorful lanterns

According to China’s various folk customs, people get together on the night of the Lantern Festival to celebrate with different activities.

As China is a vast country with a long history and diverse cultures, Lantern Festival customs and activities vary regionally, including lighting and enjoying (floating, fixed, held, and flying) lanterns, appreciating the bright full moon, setting off fireworks, guessing riddles written on lanterns, eating tangyuan, lion dances, dragon dances, and walking on stilts.

The most important and prevalent customs are enjoying lanterns, guessing lantern riddles, eating tangyuan, and lion dances.

Lighting and Watching Lanterns

LanternsPeople are watching lanterns in a lantern display.

Lighting and appreciating lanterns is the main activity of the festival. When the festival comes, lanterns of various shapes and sizes (traditional globes, fish, dragons, goats! — in 2015, up to stories high!) are seen everywhere including households, shopping malls, parks, and streets, attracting numerous viewers. Children may hold small lanterns while walking the streets.

The lanterns’ artwork vividly demonstrates traditional Chinese images, such as fruits, flowers, birds, animals, people, and buildings.

In the Taiwanese dialect, the Chinese word for lantern (灯 dēng) is pronounced similarly to (丁 dīng), which means ‘a new-born baby boy’. Therefore lighting lanterns means illuminating the future and giving birth.

Lighting lanterns is a way for people to pray that they will have smooth futures and express their best wishes for their families. Women who want to be pregnant would walk under a hanging lantern praying for a child.

Read more about Chinese lanterns.

Guessing Lantern Riddles

Guessing Lantern RiddlesPeople are guessing lantern riddles in the Lantern Festival.

Guessing (solving) lantern riddles, starting in the Song Dynasty (960–1279), is one of the most important and popular activities of the Lantern Festival. Lantern owners write riddles on paper notes and pasted them upon the colorful lanterns. People crowd round to guess the riddles.

If someone thinks they have the right answer, they can pull the riddle off and go to the lantern owner to check their answer. If the answer is right, there is usually a small gift as a prize.

As riddle guessing is interesting and informative, it has become popular among all social strata.

Lion Dances

The lion dance is one of the most outstanding traditional folk dances in China. It can be dated back to the Three Kingdoms Period (220–280).

the Lantern FestivalFour people are performing Lion Dances.

Ancient people regarded the lion as a symbol of bravery and strength, and thought that it could drive away evil and protect people and their livestock. Therefore, lion dances are performed at important events, especially the Lantern Festival, to ward off evil and pray for good fortune and safety.

The lion dance requires two highly-trained performers in a lion suit. One acts as the head and forelegs, and the other the back and rear legs. Under the guidance of a choreographer, the “lion” dances to the beat of a drum, gong, and cymbals. Sometimes they jump, roll, and do difficult acts such as walking on stilts.

In one lion dance, the “lion” moves from place to place looking for some green vegetables, in which red envelopes with money inside are hidden. The acting is very amusing and spectators enjoy it very much.

Nowadays, the lion dance has spread to many other countries with overseas Chinese, and it is quite popular in countries like Malaysia and Singapore. In many Chinese communities of Europe and America, Chinese people use lion dances or dragon dances to celebrate every Spring Festival and other important events.

Read more on Chinese New Year Lion Dances.

Eating Tangyuan (Yuanxiao)

TangyuanEating Tangyuan is a very important custom of the Lantern Festival.

Eating tangyuan is an important custom of the Lantern Festival. Tangyuan (汤圆 tāngyuán /tung-ywen/ ‘soup round’) are also called yuanxiao when eaten for the Lantern Festival, after the festival.

These ball-shaped dumplings made of glutinous rice flour, with different fillings are stuffed inside, usually sweet, such as white sugar, brown sugar, sesame seeds, peanuts, walnuts, rose petals, bean paste, and jujube paste, or any combination of two or three ingredients. Yuanxiao can be boiled, fried, or steamed, and are customarily served in fermented rice soup, called tianjiu (甜酒 tián jiǔ /tyen-jyoh/ ‘sweet liquor’).

As tangyuan is pronounced similarly to tuanyuan (团圆 /twan-ywen/ ‘group round’), which means the whole family gathering together happily, Chinese people believe that the round shape of the balls and their bowls symbolize wholeness and togetherness. Therefore, eating tangyuan on the Lantern Festival is a way for Chinese people to express their best wishes for their family and their future lives.

It is believed that the custom of eating tangyuan originated during the Song Dynasty, and became popular during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) periods.

See more on Chinese Desserts.

Where Is Best to See Lanterns in China?

Lantern FestivalA snake-shape lantern in Lantern Festival.

During the Lantern Festival many lantern fairs are held in China, offering tourists the chances to experience Lantern Festival celebrations in public places. Here we recommend four top places for you to appreciate spectacular and colorful lanterns and performances.

  • Qinhuai International Lantern Festival (the biggest in China!) is from January  28 to February 14, 2017, at Confucius Temple, Qinhuai Scenic Zone, Nanjing.
  • Beijing Yanqing Lantern Festival Flower Exhibition is from the middle of January to the end of February, 2017, in Yanqing County, Beijing.
  • Xiamen Lantern Festival is estimated from January 30 to February 14, 2017, at Yuanboyuan Garden, Xiamen City.
  • Shanghai Datuan Peach Garden Lantern Festival is from February to March, 2017, at Datuan Peach Garden, 888 Caichuan, Datuan Town, Pudong New District, Shanghai (adults: 40 yuan, students and children under 1.3m: 20 yuan, over 60s: 32 yuan).

from http://www.chinahighlights.com/festivals/lantern-festival.htm

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

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