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Lantern Festival

The lantern festival is the Chinese New Year holiday comes to its climax with the Yuan Xiao, or Lantern Festival.

Almost 2000 years ago, the festival has developed many important meanings. It celebrates family reunions and society. It features ancient spiritual traditions. Some also call this the “true” Chinese Valentine’s Day. This day is a very important thing for the people of China.

The many activities include moon gazing, lighting lanterns, riddles, lion dances, and eating rice balls. According to the lunar calendar, the festival takes place on January 15. Dates of past and future Lantern Festivals using the Gregorian calendar include:

·         From 2016: February 22nd

·        In 2017: February 11th

·         On 2018: February 16th

·         In 2019: February 19th

·         Now 2020: February 8th

Cultural Significance of the Lantern Festival:

The Spring Festival is a time reserved for families. All people are spent time with their families. There is the reunion dinner on New Year’s Eve, visits to in-laws on the 2nd day, and neighbors after that. Stores reopen on the 5th and society basically goes back to normal. All things are work as they work before

But on the 15th, everyone regardless of age or gender go out onto the streets to celebrate. Though the Lantern Festival symbolizes reunions, it’s also a time of socializing and freedom.

In Ancient China, women usually weren’t allowed out of the house. But on this night, they can stroll freely, lighting lanterns, playing games, and interacting with men. The wild and romantic stories are why some say the Lantern Festival is the true Chinese Valentine’s Day, rather than Qixi

This is very important in their culture. On a more serious side, the Lantern Festival also has religious aspects. It was important in ancient Chinese paganism, and also modern-day Buddhism and ethnic minority cultures.

Origins and Histories:

The lantern festival is that festival began more than 2000 years ago in the Western Han dynasty. Emperor Wu designated this day for worship rituals for Taiyi one of the universe’s sovereigns. Intense power play and unrest came after his reign. The new emperor was Emperor Wen To celebrate the return of peace, he made the 15th a national holiday. Every household would light candles and lanterns. It became known as “Nao” can be interpreted as having fun, or going wild with excitement.

Emperor Ming of the later Eastern Han was a devout Buddhist. He heard that on the 15th, monks would light candles for the Buddha. He ordered the palace and temples to light candles, and for the citizens to hang lanterns.

Both events combined and eventually developed into the Lantern Festival we know today.

Lantern Festival Celebration

Lantern Festival Celebration
Lantern Festival Celebration

The duration of celebrations varied throughout history. In, the past people are enjoying very much. Nowadays, the festival technically isn’t a national holiday, so there aren’t any days off. The best period for Lantern Festival lovers would be the Ming dynasty. It lasted for around 1 month!

There are some holidays that coincide with the Lantern Festival and are now celebrated together. This the very biggest festival in Chinese culture.

Torch Festival

Torch Festival
Torch Festival

The Torch Festival began in ancient times to chase away insects and pests and pray for a good harvest.

Children gather firewood and tree branches. Adults then light them. Holding these torches, entire communities dance in fields from dusk to dawn. Even now, it is still celebrated in some parts of Southwestern China.

Vegetable Stealing Festival

This is celebrated by the Miao ethnicity in China. On that day, groups of girls steal Chinese cabbage from someone’s fields. Being caught is totally fine, but it’s forbidden to steal from relatives or friends.

This is an important culture in china. Later, everyone puts the stolen Chinese cabbage together to make a feast. The one who eats the most will be the one to marry first.

Lighting the Lanterns:

Lighting the Lanterns
Lighting the Lanterns

Lanterns are the most important part of the festival. Which you can probably tell by the name.

In the early days, the Lantern Festival was also called Shang Yuan It was dedicated to the heavenly palace People would gather in their yards and give offerings to the gods. The lit lantern near the setup represented a god’s seat.

Throughout history, countless variations of lanterns have been created. They can be small globes that fit in your palm, or as large as a parade float. People make lanterns in symbolic designs as well.

A famous variation is the Kongming lantern They represent hope, success, and happiness. This is a sign of wealth. In the past, people used these lanterns to signify they were safe after an attack. Now, they are used for wishes. At this event, people are very happy and they make wishes for our families.

This is Also known as the sky lantern; it sounds similar to which means “adding children”. Lanterns would be gifted to newlyweds or couples without children to pass on the blessings. Pregnant women would receive a pair of small lanterns to wish health and safety on both mother and child. This is important for children and newborn babies.

Traditions and Activities:

Every holiday has its own set of activities. These are different activities for these people. There’s more to this festival than lanterns!

In the city of Fengyang, swings play a major role. A popular saying there is, “Swing on the Lantern Festival, no aches or pains the entire year.”

One of the festival sights in Hebei is the performances. Holding fans and parasol-like props, folks dance to the beat of drums. These people are enjoyed much more.

Lantern riddles:

These are important and beautiful activities. The ancient Chinese would often get together with some friends, drink wine, and write poetry. Plays on words and riddles were a favorite pastime. They increase the beauty of the event.

During this beautiful festival, people would write riddles on the lanterns. These small games are popular with everyone. They require you to be clever and think outside the box. There are very interesting things.

According to many love stories, you can catch the attention of your crush through this game!

Dragon dance:

Chinese people are very interesting in Dragon dance to have a history almost as long as Chinese culture itself.

These things are an increase in the beauty of the event. The performers create impressive formations to the beat of Chinese drums and cymbals.

Stilts:

Chinese stilt performances are an ancient act. They stem from Chinese opera and the performers sing and dance while on stilts. Depending on their character, they have different costumes and heights.

Food and Family:

The trademark food of the Lantern Festival is called yuan xiao, just like the festival itself. It’s also known as tāng yuan in the South, and one of the many tasty Chinese New Year desserts.

They are glutinous rice dumplings with sweet fillings made of syrup, red bean paste, black sesame pastes, or more. They can be steamed or fried, but usually boiled and served in hot water.

This very good for their families and business. They represent family reunions because tang yuan sounds similar to “reunion”. Some businessmen also call these balls meaning gold or silver ingots.

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