Celebrated on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month, the Lantern Festival traditionally marks the end of the Chinese New Year Spring Festival period. This year it's on Friday 2nd of March.
People will go out to look at the moon, send up flying lanterns, fly bright drones, have a meal, and enjoy time together with family and friends in parks and natural areas.
The Lantern Festival is Very Important
The Lantern Festival is traditionally the last day of China's most important festival, the Spring Festival. After the Lantern Festival, Chinese New Year taboos are no longer in effect and all New Year decorations are taken down.
The Lantern Festival is also the first full moon night in the Chinese calendar, marking the return of spring and symbolizing the reunion of family. However, most people cannot celebrate it with their families at a family reunion because there is no public holiday for this festival so long-distance travel isn't feasible.
When Did the Lantern Festival Begin
The Lantern Festival can be traced back to 2,000 years ago. In the beginning of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220), Emperor Hanmingdi was an advocate of Buddhism. He heard that some monks lit lanterns in the temples to show respect to Buddha on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. Therefore, he ordered that all the temples, households, and royal palaces should light lanterns on that evening.
This Buddhist custom gradually became a grand festival among the people.
How Do Chinese Celebrate the Lantern Festival?
According to China's various folk customs, people get together on the night of the Lantern Festival to celebrate with different activities.
As China is a vast country with a long history and diverse cultures, Lantern Festival customs and activities vary regionally including lighting and enjoying (floating, fixed, held, and flying) lanterns, appreciating the bright full moon, setting off fireworks, flying drones, guessing riddles written on lanterns, eating tangyuan, lion dances, dragon dances, and walking on stilts.
The most important and prevalent customs are enjoying lanterns, guessing lantern riddles, eating tangyuan, and lion dances.
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