This amazing Chinese lantern festival is celebrated by people on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month. The lantern festival traditionally marks the end of the Chinese spring festival (Chinese New Year). On this day people go out to look at the moon, send flying lanterns, fly vibrant and bright drones and enjoy delightful meals with their loved ones and family. The festival is celebrated in a park and natural areas.
The Chinese Lantern Festival is Paramount in China
Chinese started to celebrate this festival over 2000 years ago; the festival has developed many meanings. Some even called this day as “true” Chinese Valentine’s Day – with ancient spiritual traditions.
Emperor Wu designated this day for worshipping rituals for Taiyi (one of the universe’s sovereign). After his reign, intense powerplay and unrest came into being.
The new emperor, Wen celebrated the return of peace; he made 15th a national holiday. On this day, every household light candles and lanterns. Later it came to be known as nàoyuànxião. Here, “Nao” is used to interpret fun, or going wild with excitement.
When the next emperor heard about 15th, asked monks to light candles for the Buddha, ordered palace & temples to light candles and citizens to hang lanterns.
The lantern festival we know today is an outcome of both the events together.
This festival technically isn’t a national holiday, so not everyone takes off. People usually celebrate lantern festival and other holidays together to enjoy festivities for around one month and so. Yes, the lantern festival lovers enjoy celebrating all the festivals together during the Ming Dynasty period.
The Chinese Lantern Festival Features
- It rejoices family reunion and society
- Many activities take place like moon gazing, lighting lanterns, riddles, lion dance, and eating rice balls.
- The dates of the past and future lantern festivals are decided using the Gregorian calendar.
The Chinese Lantern Festival’s Culture
On this day people organize reunion dinner with their families and friends. This day is reserved for families and Chinese New Year’s Eve. On this day, everyone – regardless of age or gender – come out of their house and goes out onto the streets to celebrate.
This symbolizes reunion and also the feature of socializing and freedom. Anciently, Chinese women were not allowed to go step out of the house. But on this night, they were allowed to stroll freely, light lanterns, play games, and interact with men. Most of the wild and romantic love stories are written on the lantern festival, that is why this day is declared as a true Chinese valentine’s day, rather than and Qixi.
On a serious note, the festival also has religious aspects. It has importance in ancient Chinese paganism, and also in modern-day Buddhism and ethnic minority cultures.
Celia Wang is fascinated by the Chinese Culture in general and the Chinese Lantern Festival in particular. Celia Wang (firstname.lastname@example.org) teaches Chinese to foreigners online via Skype and in person in Shanghai. Recently she was looking for the best SAT prep course online for herself and visited her parents in the province of Yunnan.
More about the Chinese Lantern Festival
The lantern festival is one of the most interesting festivals. The most noticeable part of this festival is that it was called Shang Yuan. The people would gather in their yard and give offerings to God and dedicate their prayers to the heavenly palaces. They lit the lantern near the setup represented as a god’s seat. Throughout history, there have been countless variations. People make there lanterns in their style and present their way of celebrating this festival – size varies from a small globe that fits in your palm to as large as a parade float.
One of the famous variations is Kongming lantern. They express happiness, success and hope. In the past, people use these lanterns to symbolize their safety after an attack. But, now they use for making wishes.
Another lantern called sky lantern means “adding children”. The lantern is gifted to newly wedded couples without children to pass on the blessing. Even pregnant women use a pair of small lanterns with a desire to receive the blessing of having healthy and safe parenthood.
Apart from that, people also use or burn lanterns to determine the gender of their future child from the shape of the ashes.