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Expats join in Lantern Festival celebrations in Shanghai

It is easy to feel far away from home during important celebrations, such as Christmas, but getting involved in local customs is a great way to see the positive side.

This is what expatriates living in Shanghai are doing at present, as the city pulls out all the stops for the Lantern Festival, which marks the end of Lunar New Year celebrations.

Expat families can take part in the lantern-making activities, sugar painting and enjoy trying to solve riddles alongside the locals.

Australian expat Warren Nash said: "It's good because it's a family thing. I like the riddles. I'm still learning Chinese. So I like the riddles on the red lanterns, and trying to solve them if I can."

The Yuyuan Garden has an impressive lantern show every year, with more than 1,000 examples for people to come and take a look at.

Over the years, simple lantern designs have become more complicated and ornate, representing animals or people. Many of them have been created to resemble characters from Chinese legends, making it a great way to learn more about the culture of the country.

Igor Zarenko from Germany said: "I think this kind of event is a very good opportunity just to to remind the people that there are such festivities. I think many new comers in China don't even know about the Lantern Festival."

The idea behind the festival is one of renewal, with people letting go of their past selves through their lanterns, which are usually red in colour for good luck.

It is always celebrated on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year and generally marks the end of a long period of festivities.

While the activities in Shanghai tend to be on a large scale, the Lantern Festival is recognised all over China and expats will not find it difficult to get involved.

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