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Chinese Festivals: Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival is one of the important cultural festivals of China. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the Lunar year. Chinese celebrate this festival on the full moon day and it is also marks the last day of the Chinese New Year. The Festival is associated to the legends of the Han dynasty over 2000 years ago.

Mythical story behind the Lantern festival is very famous. The legends of Emperor 'Jade', who stays in heaven, once got very angry and decided to avenge a small town for killing his favorite goose. He took pledge to destroy the town with a storm of fire. A fairy, also stays in

heaven, came to know about Jade's decision. In a move to save lives of innocent people, she made them aware of the Jade's decision, and asked the people to light up the whole village by burning lanterns on that day. The villagers obeyed the fairy and it seems to the emperor that the village was already on fire. He was satisfied and decided not to destroy the town. It is from this day that people started to celebrate the anniversary of their deliverance by lightning up lanterns of different shapes and colors.

The Festival is also known as "Shangyuan festival" and it symbolizes the coming back of spring. The important activity of the day is watching lanterns of different colors hung at almost all the places. Lantern festival is regarded as an auspicious day for family gathering. On the eve of the festival, people light up fancy lanterns and go out to appreciate the beauty of the moon. The day is filled with merry making with people setting off fireworks, guessing riddles written on the lanterns. They eat rice glue balls to celebrate the festival.

During the Han dynasty, the emperors lighten up the temples and palaces on the night as a sign of respect to Buddha. In the Song dynasty, people wrote riddles on paper strips and paste them on the colorful lanterns. This is followed by guessing the riddles and appreciating the beauty of the riddles. In the Qing dynasty, fireworks were set off to add amusement and fun to the festival.

In the Chinese culture, children go out carrying bright lanterns in their hands. During the ancient period, the emperors and the nobles had beautifully decorated large lanterns. The Lanterns of the common people were simple. In the modern period, lanterns have been made of various designs including the shapes of animals.

The Lantern festival is also celebrated as a day for love and matchmaking in Chinese culture. Young people chaperoned in the streets with the hope of finding their love. On the side, matchmakers keep themselves busy by pairing perfect couples. The brightest lanterns were considered as symbol of good luck and hope.

The celebrations of the festival include dance, music, acrobats and the beautiful sight of the bright-decorated lanterns. Skilled craftsman design lantern with different colors in the shape of butterflies, dragons, birds, dragonflies and many other animals.

With the passage of time, a number of activities have been added to the festival. Traditional folk customs are performed such as lion dancing, striking land boat, and doing the Yangko, stilting and striking peace drum. The Lantern festival is an important cultural festival of China and it has a history of 2,000 years. The festival is popular even today in the Chinese culture as well as in other parts of the world.

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