Since Chinese Spring festival is over, it is time for Lantern Festival on 2nd of March – also known as the “Chinese Valentines day”. There are many origins about the Lantern Festival. Some say it was originated from the Taoism. According to the Daoism it`s called Shangyuan Festival. As a matter of fact ‘Shang’ refers to the heaven. On this day, families should worship the Heaven Officer of Taoism and decorate the house with lanterns to get safety.
Another sources say that it is related to the Buddhist legend. According to the legend, the fifteenth day of the first Chinese lunar month was the day that Sakyamuni defeated the demons so to commemorate the day, lanterns should be lighted. Since the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220AD), the custom has been popular. The Emperor Hanmingdi ordered that all the temples and families should light lanterns on the evening of the day. From that time on, it has a custom to light lanterns for the festival.
Enjoying the family reunion, appreciating the bright full moon, eating Yuanxiao, watching beautiful lanterns, guessing lantern riddles, watching fireworks, performing dragon lantern dance, lion dance and walking on stilts are the main traditions of the festival.
Like the Spring Festival, on the day of the Lantern Festival, all the members will try to go home for a reunion. In the evening, they usually prepare a scrumptious dinner. Among them, Yuanxiao is an indispensable food symbolizing the unity of the family, made from sweet rice flour into sticky glutinous balls with fillings. The common fillings are sesame, red-bean and peanut butter paste. In Southern China, it is called Tang Yuan.
Lanterns in various sizes and shapes will be hung on everywhere including households, shopping malls and streets. In the evening, there are usually lantern shows in most cities adding the festival atmosphere to a great extent. The lanterns are usually in different forms such as animals, flowers, people, buildings and more. The most popular lanterns are those with the zodiac animal of the year (2018 is the year of the dog). On the lanterns, there are usually riddles written on a piece of paper. People crowed to guess the riddles and pull them down once have the answers. After checking, if the answer is right, people can get a small gift as a prize.
There are usually performances like dragon and lion dancing, stilt-walking and more in the street to celebrate the festival. On the evening, people will set firecrackers and government usually has firework shows. Nowadays many people choose to stay at home to watch the Lantern Festival evening party broadcast on TV instead of going in the streets and watching the parade. If it is possible for you to attend a parade, do go! It is a spectacular celebration and an important event to Chinese community around the world.