The Yuan Xiao Festival (元宵节) falls on February 5 in 2023, and it signifies the last day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations. Ricefield Arts celebrated this special day with a fun afternoon of Chinese arts and cultural activities at Merchant Square on 5 February 2023.

Our placement student Boxuan Ma wrote a blog to share her experience helping out at the event:

I am delighted to be a part of this event, which is a traditional Chinese Lantern Festival held at Merchant Square in Glasgow.

We delivered a variety of Chinese culture-related activities at the event. These include Chinese calligraphy, calligraphy tattoo, chopsticks challenge, Chinese Hanfu costume booth, lantern making, and demonstration of traditional Chinese instrument – Guzheng.

This event not only attracted the Chinese community in Glasgow, but also the diverse communities in Glasgow who are interested to know more about Chinese culture. Many parents also brought their children here to try different activities and had a fun time.

Merchant Square, in the heart of Glasgow’s Merchant City, is the location. Visitors were impressed by the festive decorations with rows of red lanterns on arrival.

We encouraged visitors to try ancient Chinese Hanfu at our costume booth . There are different styles of Hanfu for men and women that visitors can choose from. I also put it on Hanfu myself. It looks fantastic and reminded me to ancient times in an instant.

One of the fun activities we offered was Chopstick challenge, where visitors can learn how to use Chinese chopstick. Visitors can practise by using chopsticks to pick up items from large to small. Those completed the challenges were awarded fortune cookies.

Calligraphy was another activity we offered. Chinese calligraphy is the writing of Chinese in art form, and we are also keen to share the beauty of Chinese art of writing to all visitors. The volunteers patiently taught the participants how to write calligraphy correctly, from technique to hold the brush to the order to write a Chinese character.

The majority of the children were drawn to our craft activity table. I had a busy time together with other volunteers to demonstrate our young visitors how to make paper lanterns. The children were overjoyed making their own lanterns.

At the scene, there was also a demonstration of traditional Chinese musical instruments, Guzheng. The performer in beautiful qipao performing on the spot made us immersed in calming atmosphere.

Finally, we had a craft stall selling Chinese arts and crafts, and also traditional toys children. Paper cutting packs, Chinese knots, zodiac necklaces, and the must-have bunny lanterns for the Lantern Festival can all be found at the stall.

I hope all our visitors and the kids had a wonderful and fulfilling day. We had pleasure sharing our culture with the local communities.

This event is a joint celebration between Ricefield Arts and Cultural Centre, Confucius Institute at the University of Glasgow, and Merchant Square.