What happens in Chinese Lantern Festival 2017?
Decorative lanterns are hung in the street, fireworks are set off and special dinners are cooked, including small dumpling balls made of glutinous rice flour with a sweet filling. Celebrations from China to New York are a colourful spectacle of delicious food and street parties.
Not only does the Lantern Festival mark the end of the Chinese New Year, but traditionally it mostly celebrated the approach of spring and longer daylight hours. The festival began as a sign of appreciation of the first full moon of the new year, with simple decorations. Over time, the occasion has evolved to become a major celebration with ornate lanterns and other additions.
Customs and Activities
- Watching Lanterns
- Guessing Lantern Riddles
- Folk Dances: Lion Dance, and Walking on Stilts
- Eating Yuanxiao : Yuanxiao, also called tangyuan, is a dumpling ball made of sticky rice flour stuffed with different fillings. Eating yuanxiao has become an essential part of the festival
Where did the festival come from?
In the beginning of the Eastern Han Dynasty, Emperor Ming of Han was an advocate of Buddhism. After finding out some monks lit lanterns in temples to show respect to Buddha on the 15th day of the first lunar month, he ordered that all temples and households should light lanterns that evening. The custom gradually transformed into a festival among the people.
Myths and legends:
Stories of the origin of the Lantern Festival vary, yet are deeply rooted in the history of the celebration. According to some, the birthday of Tianguan, the Taoist god of good fortune, coincides with the festival and so celebrations took place in the hope of good luck. Over time, the festivities formed the modern-day Lantern Festival.
Another story of the festival's origins centres on the Jade Emperor, one of the representations of the first god in Chinese culture, traditional religions and mythology. The tale tells the story of how the Jade Emperor's favourite crane was hunted and killed as it flew down to Earth. Furious, the Emperor planned a firestorm as retaliation on the people, who were warned of this by his daughter.
A wise man from one village suggested the people hang red lanterns outside and create bonfires for three days, to trick the Jade Emperor into thinking the village was already ablaze.