Chinese Name: 元宵节
English Name: Lantern Festival, Yuan Xiao Festival
Time & Duration: The fifteenth day of the first lunar month
Customs: solve riddles on the lanterns (Chinese: 猜灯谜), Eating Tangyuan (Chinese: 吃汤圆), Enjoying Lantern show (Chinese: 赏花灯), etc.
The Lantern Festival 元宵节, also called Shangyuan Festival ( Chinese: 上元节 ), is a Chinese traditional festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunisolar Chinese calendar, during the full moon. The Lantern Festival custom has been dominated by the warm and festive lantern viewing custom since ancient times.
The formation of the Lantern Festival has a long process, which is rooted in the folk custom of turning on the lights and praying for blessings. According to general information and folklore, the fifteenth day of the first month has been taken seriously in the Western Han Dynasty 西汉, but the Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day of the first month was really regarded as a national folk festival after the Han Dynasty.
The rise of the custom of lighting lanterns on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month is also related to the spread of Buddhism to the east. During the Tang Dynasty 唐朝, Buddhism flourished. Officials and common people generally “lit lanterns to worship Buddha” on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. Buddhist lights spread throughout the people. Since the Tang Dynasty, the Lantern Festival has become a legal thing.
The Lantern Festival is one of the traditional festivals in China. The Lantern Festival mainly includes a series of traditional folk activities such as viewing lantern shows, eating Tangyuan, guessing lantern riddles, setting off fireworks, etc.
The origin of the Lantern Festival
The Lantern Festival is a traditional festival in China. The formation of the Lantern Festival custom has a long process, which is rooted in the ancient folk custom of turning on the lights and praying for blessings. The introduction of Buddhist culture in the Eastern Han Dynasty 东汉 also played an important role in promoting the formation of the Lantern Festival customs.
During the period of Emperor Ming of the Han Dynasty 汉明帝, in order to promote Buddhism, he ordered “burning lamps to represent Buddha” in palaces and temples on the fifteenth night of the first lunar month. Therefore, the custom of lighting lanterns on the fifteenth night of the first lunar month gradually expanded in China with the expansion of the influence of Buddhist culture and the addition of Taoist 道教 culture later. Since the Tang Dynasty, the Lantern Festival has become a legal thing.
Solve riddles on the lanterns 猜灯谜
Guessing lantern riddles is a form of traditional folk entertainment that is unique to China and rich in national style. It is a special activity of the Lantern Festival that has been circulating since ancient times. On the fifteenth day of the first month of the lunar calendar, traditional folk would hang up colourful lanterns and set off fireworks. Later, some good people wrote riddles on slips of paper and pasted them on colourful lanterns for people to guess.
Because riddles can inspire wisdom and cater to the festive atmosphere, so many people responded, and then riddles gradually became an indispensable program for the Lantern Festival. The lantern riddles add to the festive atmosphere, showing the ingenuity of the ancient working people and their yearning for a better life.
Eating Yuanxiao 吃元宵
The Yuanxiao 元宵 also called “Tang Yuan”, is filled with sugar, rose, sesame, bean paste, cinnamon, walnut, nut, jujube paste, etc., and wrapped in glutinous rice flour into a round shape, which can be meat or vegetarian, with different flavours. Tangyuan can be boiled, fried or steamed, which means reunion and happiness.
Enjoying Lantern show 赏花灯
Enjoying Lantern show is a traditional festival custom of the Lantern Festival, which began in the Western Han Dynasty 西汉 and flourished in the Sui Dynasty 隋朝 and Tang Dynasty 唐朝. After the Sui dynasty and Tang dynasty, the style of lights in all dynasties prevailed and was passed down to later generations. According to Chinese folk tradition, on this night with the bright moon hanging high in the sky, people will light up thousands of lanterns to celebrate.
Lion dance 舞狮
Lion dance is an excellent folk art in China. Every Lantern Festival or gathering celebration, folks come to cheer up with lion dance. This custom originated in the Three Kingdoms period 三国时期 and became popular in the Northern and Southern Dynasties, with a history of more than a thousand years.
According to legend, it was first introduced in the Western Regions, and the lion was the mount of Manjushri 文殊. With the introduction of Buddhism into China, the activities of lion dancing were also imported into China.