Celebrated on the last day of the Lunar New Year, the Lantern Festival is celebrated all across China. Also called the Shangyuan Festival, it is a celebration that is not only widely popular but also has a great deal of cultural significance. It is considered to be the last day of the Spring Festival, and in fact, the Spring Festival can’t end until this day has been celebrated.
The history of this festival can be traced all the way back to the Han Dynasty. During this time, Buddhist monks would light lanterns to pay homage to Buddha. Eventually, it would spread to the general population when various Emperors ordered people to light lanterns on this day to show respect to Buddha. During the Song Dynasty, the tradition of adding riddles to the sides of the lanterns, a practice that is still followed to this day. The Qing Dynasty put their unique twist on this holiday by including a firework display during the festivities.
Customs And Observations
Red lanterns can be seen everywhere during this festival, not only at businesses but also at private residents and in street parades. As is customary, these lanterns all contain riddles on the side of them. A common practice performed by many people during this festival is to offer a prize to anyone who can answer the riddle on the side of the lantern.
During this time, there are a variety of dances that are performed. This includes the famous lion dance and dancing on stilts.
Another common practice on Lantern Day is the consumption of a sticky rice flour dumpling called tangyuan. It can be filled with a variety of different fillings, which usually differ from place to place. The symbolic meaning of Tangyuan is harmony and happiness.