another legend associates the lantern festival with taoism. tianguan is the taoist god responsible for good fortune. his birthday falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month. it is said that tianguan likes all types of entertainment. so followers prepare various kinds of activities during which they pray for good fortune.
the third story about the origin of the festival is like this. buddhism first entered china during the reign of emperor mingdi of the eastern han dynasty. that was in the first century. however, it did not exert any great influence among the chinese people. one day, emperor mingdi had a dream about a gold man in his palace. at the very moment when he was about to ask the mysterious figure who he was, the gold man suddenly rose to the sky and disappeared in the west. the next day, emperor mingdi sent a scholar to india on a pilgrimage（朝圣）to locate buddhist scriptures. after journeying thousands of miles, the scholar finally returned with the scriptures. emperor mingdi ordered that a temple be built to house a statue of buddha and serve as a repository for the scriptures. followers believe that the power of buddha can dispel darkness. so emperor mingdi ordered his subjects to display lighted lanterns during what was to become the lantern festival.
besides entertainment and beautiful lanterns, another important part of the lantern festival,or yuanxiao festival is eating small dumpling balls made of glutinous rice flour. we call these balls yuanxiao or tangyuan. obviously, they get the name from the festival itself. it is said that the custom of eating yuanxiao originated during the eastern jin dynasty in the fourth centuty, then became popular during the tang and song periods.
the fillings inside the dumplings or yuansiao are either sweet or salty. sweet fillings are made of sugar, walnuts（胡桃）, sesame, osmanthus flowers（桂花）, rose petals, sweetened tangerine peel, bean paste, or jujube paste（枣泥）. a single ingredient or any combination can be used as the filling . the salty variety is filled with minced meat, vegetables or a mixture.
the way to make yuanxiao also varies between northern and southern china. the usual method followed in southern provinces is to shape the dough of rice flour into balls, make a hole, insert the filling, then close the hole and smooth out the dumpling by rolling it between your hands. in north china, sweet or nonmeat stuffing is the usual ingredient. the fillings are pressed into hardened cores, dipped lightly in water and rolled in a flat basket containing dry glutinous rice flour. a layer of the flour sticks to the filling, which is then again dipped in water and rolled a second time in the rice flour. and so it goes, like rolling a snowball, until the dumpling is the desired size.