Everything you need to know about Chinese Traditions

Chinese Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month. It is the first full moon of the new year, symbolizing unity and perfection.

The Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), Buddhism flourished all over China. One emperor heard that Buddhism monks would watch sarira, or remains from the cremation of Buddha’s body, and light laterns to worship buddha on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month, so he ordered to light laterns in the imperial palace and temples to show respect to Buddha on this day. Later, the Buddhist rite developed into a grand festival among common people and its influence expanded from the Central Plains to the whole China.

In the daytime of the Festival, performances such as a lion dance, a land boat dance, a yangge dance, walking on stilts and beating drums while dancing will be staged. On the night, except for magnificent lanterns, fireworks form a beautiful scene. Most families spare some fireworks from the Spring Festival and let them off in the Lantern Festival. Some local governments will even organize a fireworks party. On the night when the first full moon enters the New Year, people become really intoxicated by the imposing fireworks and bright moon in the sky.

Eating Tangyuan/Yuanxiao
People will eat yuanxiao (or rice dumplings) on the Lantern Festival, so it is aslo called the “Yuanxiao Festival”, Yuanxiao also has another name, Tangyuan. It is small dumpling balls made of glutionous rice with rose petals, sesame, bean paste, walnut meat, dried fruit, sugar and edible oil as filling. Tangyuan can be boiled, fried or steamed. It tastes sweet and has the meaning of reunion. So people eat them to denote union, harmony and happiness for the family.

Guessing Lantern Riddles
“Guessing lantern riddles” is an essential part of the Festival. Lantern owners write riddles on a piece of paper and post them on the lanterns. If visitors have solutions to the riddles, they can pull the paper out and go to the lantern owners to check their answer. If they are right, they will get a small gift. The activity emerged during people’s enjoyment of lanterns in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). As riddle guessing is interesting and full of wisdom, it has become popular among all social strata.

Lion Dance
According to ancient custom, the lion is a symbol of boldness and strength that can protect people, so by performing the lion dance, everyone prays for an auspicious and happy life.

Walking on Stilts
Walking on stilts, another folk art, traces its origins to the Spring and Autumn period (770BC-476BC). Performers not only walk on stilts by binding them to their feet, but also do some breathtakingly difficult moves. As actors impersonate different characters like monks, clowns, and fishermen and perform vivid and humorous acts, the art amuses many people.

Lighting lanterns
Decorating and hanging lanterns is the main tradition of the festival, with lanterns big and small hung around households, parks, streets and other public spaces. Red lanterns of various shape and type will attract countless visitors to watch.

So, how did you celebrate this Lantern Festival? Did you eat Yuanxiao/Tangyuan? Would you like to celebrate it if you get a chance?

chihese festival
chihese festival
chihese festival
chihese festival