China’s Annual Lantern Festival is one of the most beautiful and romantic light festivals on Earth. Before there were LED lights and computers, this festival already gave a spectacular evenings to all the festival goers.
The Lantern Festival began during the Eastern Han Dynasty around 2000 years ago. It is actually a Buddhist tradition that Emperor Hanmingdi adapted for his dynasty. He was a follower of Buddhism, and he learned that monks did the tradition exactly on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. Thus, he ordered his kingdom to light lanterns.
It also coincides with the first full moon of the Chinese calendar. It marks the end of the Chinese New Year but starts the spring season in the country. Family reunions often takes place during this day. Unfortunately, most cannot celebrate because it is not declared as a public holiday. In 2017, the Lantern Festival will be on February 11, 2017.
There are several activities done on this auspicious day in China. Let’s learn more about them below.
Light Up and Watch the Lanterns
This is the primary activity of this festival. Lanterns in all shapes and sizes can be seen everywhere. The traditional fish, dragons, globes are the usual figures that you can see. The lanterns also has a design on it making each of them unique and extraordinary. The lanterns are also like candles that call everyone to say a prayer
The custom of eating Tangyuan started in the Song Dynasty. It symbolizes wholeness and togetherness in the family.
Tangyuan “soup round” is a ball dumpling made with sticky rice flour and filled with sweet fillings such as sugar, sesame seed, peanuts and various sweet pastes. It is either fried, boiled or steamed and served with a soup called tian jiu “sweet liquor.”
Solve Lantern Riddles
This guessing game started in the Song Dynasty. It makes the mood during the festival exciting and enjoyable. The game is just simple. The owner of the lantern will write a riddle on piece of paper and stick it on the lantern for everyone to solve. Once a person gets the correct answer, the lantern owner will give that person a little prize.
Enjoy Lion Dances
Lion Dances are very amusing. Four people, under a lion costume, do synchronized movements to make an amazing dance. The Lion Dance has been around since the Three Kingdoms Period, and it continues to wow us to this day.
The ancient people believes that the brave and strong lion could protect people from the evil spirits. The Lion dance symbolizes this protection and the animal’s bravery and strength. You will always see a Lion dance on special events in the Chinese culture because of this belief.
Their lion dance is very amusing because two people are needed to operate the lion suit. The dancers should always be synchronized in their movements as they jump and roll to the beat of the drum, gongs, and cymbals.
The Lantern Festival is a major celebration all over China. The top places to see the festival are in Beijing, Qinhuai, Xiamen, and Shanghai. They said that the festival in Qinhuai is the biggest in the country so check it out first.