Chinese New Year 2017 just passed and another Chinese traditional festival is coming soon. That is Chinese Lantern Festival. Although it is not as popular as Chinese New Year, it is still a significant component of Chinese traditional culture. In this post we will introduce Chinese Lantern Festival in details.
What is Chinese Lantern Festival?
The Lantern Festival, Yuan Xiao Jie in Chinese language, is a Chinese traditional festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar calendar. It is considered as the last day of Chinese Spring Festival as well as the first important festival after Spring Festival.
In Chinese traditional culture, there are Shang Yuan jie (Lantern Festival), Zhong Yuan Jie and Xia Yuan Jie and they are named San Yuan. Lantern Festival starts from Qin Dynasty and Emperor Wen of Han set it on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar calendar.
How to Celebrate Chinese Lantern Festival?
As an important traditional festival in China, Lantern Festival is also celebrated in various ways.
1. Eat Tang Yuan
Tang Yuan has various names such as sweet dumplings, Yuan Xiao, Rice Glue Ball, Glutinous Rice Ball. In the North area of China, it is usually called Yuan Xiao, while called Tang Yuan in the South area. Except for the name, they are different in the producing methods as well. Yuan Xiao is usually made of sweetened bean paste and sesame and it tastes sweet, while Tang Yuan tastes sweet and salty.
2. Guess Lantern Riddle
Guessing lantern riddles is a very popular activity in the ancient times. Nowadays, it faded gradually. We can occasionally see it in promotion activities hosted by some business.
3. Enjoy Beautiful Lanterns
Enjoying beautiful lanterns is a traditional activity in Chinese Lantern Festival. It is generated in the Western Han Dynasty and prospered in Sui and Tang. It is especially popular in Shanxi province. Before the Lantern Festival arrives, people start to hang lanterns in various colors and styles.
4. Lion Dance
Lion dance is a typical activity in China. It happens not only in Lantern Festival as well as in other important moments when a new business starts or a ceremony is hosted. This activity originates in Chinese Three Kingdoms time, and it has been celebrated for more than one thousand years. To finish the lion dance, three people need to cooperate with each other perfectly. One lifts the head of the lion, another lifts the body and the hind legs, and the other one is to guide the lion. As lion dance is quite intricate, it requires the dancer to be quick-thinking and flexible.
5. Walk on Stilts
Walking on the stilts is an common activity during some important festivals. It requires exquisite skills. The walkers will dress colorful clothes and be heavily powered.
6. Stroll around Temple Fair
Temple Fair is an activity usually happened around the temple. It is closely related to the religion especially Buddhism. There are various small commodities sold on this day. The temple fair lasts at least one day to a week, usually three to five days.
Nowadays, these celebrations start to be ignored by the young generation and rare to see in big cities, but still popular in some villages.