Once upon a time, monks used to light their temples with a lantern to pay homage to Buddha on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. Since then, it became a custom for all the temples, households, and royal palaces, and over time, it turned into a fun festival amongst the Chinese. This is the fable behind the origin of the lantern festival.
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The Lantern Festival
The Lantern Festival, an aesthetically pleasing festival of fanfare, love, hope, and light dates back over 2000 years ago and marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Also known as Yuan Xiao Festival, the Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month, to honor the Chinese ancestors, and promote love, peace, and forgiveness.
Highlights of this festival include the suspension of countless ‘red lanterns’ in the sky, decorating the streets with colorful lanterns with Chinese riddles written on them, the dragon and lion dance display, and of course, fireworks.
The most memorable part of experiencing this festival is eating the Tangyuan (sweet rice balls), filled with sweet black sesame or peanut pastes. Other filling options come with chocolate, red bean, fruits, lotus paste, or custard.
About The Chinese Lantern
At the Chinese Lantern Festival, allowing the lanterns to float in the air symbolizes letting go of the past and embracing the hope for a brighter future.
However, not just any kind of lanterns are used. The palace lantern is the most commonly used, followed by the gauze lantern, and the shadow-picture lantern which comes in different designs.
Interestingly, not only do the lanterns hold significance, the dragon and lion dances during the Lantern Festival are believed to ward off evil spirits from the people and their livestock. The dragon itself is regarded as an emblem of good fortune, no wonder it is worshipped by the Chinese.
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Written by: Gloria Aimanehin, Tue, Feb 07, 2023.