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Lantern Festival, Sweet Dumplings and a Lunar Eclipse
    2007-03-02 10:20:02     CRIENGLISH.com

This year's Lantern Festival falls on March 4. Arriving with the first full-moon after the Chinese New Year, it marks the end of the Spring Festival. Already, Yuanxiao, or sweet dumpling, is selling well at various supermarkets and long cherished brands include: Daoxiangcun, Gongyifu, and Yixinfu. Some stores are in short supply before the big day.

Our reporter Zhao Zhuang is here with the story.

Reporter: As a typical north China delicacy, Yuanxiao is selling well across the northern Region. By nine-o-clock in the morning, at a superstore in Jiamusi City, people have been lining up to buy.

Similar scenes could be found in Beijing at the outside-counter of a restaurant selling the sweet dumplings. One shopper there told us:

"I buy the yuanxiao here each year and have to wait in a long line each time. "

She mentions the fact that this year, to avoid the ubiquitous queue, she has made sure of arriving early. Still, to her surprise, there are already lots of people waiting.

The manager of Jinfang restaurant says the sales jump everyday. With every Yuanxiao made quickly sold, they usually sell out by about 3 in the afternoon.

"Every day our sales climb - to 1000, 1500 even 2000 kilos. The daily volume is expected to reach 10,000 kilos two or three days before the festival."

With the enormous popularity of Yuanxiao, some people order them in advance from prestigious stores.

"May I order them and pick them up tomorrow afternoon?"
"Sure, we will keep them till you come in and collect them."

As a manager at the Dao Xiang Cun outlet says 60 cases are delivered to the store in the morning. All are sold out by noon.
The 15th is around the corner but the Yuanxiao are already running short. If you are planning to buy them many days before the festival, it is recommended that you store them at a low temperature to maintain the ideal flavor.

Adding interest to this year's event, astronomers forecast a Lunar Eclipse set to take place on the following morning.

Probably lasting around 70 minutes, it can be admired from around 05:30 on the morning of the 5th of March.

Liu Jing, a staff member from the Guangxi Science and Technology Museum tells us that the best place to observe it is from a hill - ideally as far as possible from the city.



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