The Chinese Lantern Festival

The 2014 Chinese Lantern Festival falls on Feb. 14. The full moon also falls on this day. This signifies a time of family reunions, and it is the last festival day of the Chinese New Year festival season.  (Image courtesy of Renee Luo)
The 2014 Chinese Lantern Festival falls on Feb. 14. The full moon also falls on this day. This signifies a time of family reunions, and it is the last festival day of the Chinese New Year festival season. (Image courtesy of Renee Luo)

The 2014 Chinese Lantern Festival falls on Feb. 14. The full moon also falls on this day. This signifies a time of family reunions, and it is the last festival day of the Chinese New Year festival season. It is a Chinese tradition to celebrate the Lantern Festival by eating Yuanxiao in the morning and going out to view the variety of lanterns at various lantern shows.

The Lantern Festival has a history of over 2,000 years, and peaked during the Song Dynasty. It is the first significant festival day after the Chinese New Year. The most important activity is going out at night to watch various wonderful Chinese lanterns. In ancient times, the Lantern Festival was an occasion when unmarried girls and married wives from big families were allowed to go out on the street at night to watch the lanterns.

Traditionally, every household ate Yuanxiao (元宵 yuán xiāo), also called Tangyuan (汤圆 tāng yuán), which are glutinous rice balls stuffed with different fillings, on that day, so the Lantern Festival is also known as the Yuanxiao Festival. Guessing the answers to riddles written on the lanterns is regarded as an indispensable part of the Lantern Festival.

Today, when the festival comes, red lanterns can be seen in the streets, at shopping malls, and on household gates. In the parks, lantern shows with various shapes and types of lanterns attract both young and old. They marvel at the various lanterns that so vividly demonstrate traditional Chinese folklore, as each lantern is designed and structured to indicate a traditional story, riddle, or poem. The Lion dance is also an important part for the celebration in some regions, which adds infinite fun to any celebration, including the Lantern Festival.

The Lantern Festival falls on the following dates: Feb. 6, 2012; Feb 24, 2013; March 5, 2015; Feb. 22, 2016; Feb. 11, 2017.

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