The Lantern Festival also called “Yuanxiao Festival” “Shangyuan Festival” “Chap Goh Meh Festival” “Yuen Siu Festival” and Observed by Chinese, Vietnamese. Date in 2011 was February 17 also in 2012 was in February 6 and in 2013 date will be in February 24. There is a simple rule to enjoy any festival that takes place and that rule is to try and take part in as many of the traditional activities that take place on the day of the festival as possible. This is the easiest way to make sure that the festival is fully enjoyed. However, before that can be done, it is also extremely important to understand the origin of the Lantern Festival and understand why it is celebrated every year.

The various ways in which the festival can be enjoyed are:

  • Understanding the origin of the festival
  • Making and lighting lanterns and watching fireworks
  • Guessing lantern riddles
  • Watching performances of the dancing lions and stilt walkers
  • Eating Yuanxiao

Origin

The Lantern Festival takes places on the 15th of the first lunar month of the Chinese calendar. It is the first night that the full moon can be seen and so lanterns are lit and left to float in the sky as a gesture to appreciate the moon. Another legend is that the God of Heaven, Taiyi, was to be worshiped at this time of the year. Since the celebrations would come at the beginning of the year, it would be an ideal time to worship the God who controlled everyone’s destiny and could wreak havoc on humans as well. The festival would take place to pray to him and worship him to make sure that everyone would have a good year ahead. Apart from this, there are many other legends that signify the origin of this festival.

Lanterns and Fireworks

This festival is dedicated to the lanterns. People light lanterns, solve riddles, tell stories, eat stuffed rice balls, and perform and watch folk dances. In order to enjoy the lanterns to their full extent, make paper lanterns at home at set them off in the sky. To enjoy them truly, turn off all the lights to let the lanterns shine in their floating splendor. Many children carry their lanterns
to the Buddhist temple and solve riddles on their lanterns. In the Han Dynasty, Buddhism was spreading and to allow it to spread further, in dedication to it, lanterns were lit. During the rest of the dynasties, lanterns continued to be lit as a sign of respect and became a part of their tradition. Now, at the time of the festival, all shops and houses are decorated with these lanterns and lanterns are also set into the sky. Various colorful and elaborate fireworks are also part of the festive celebration.

Lantern Riddles

One of the identifying characteristics of the festival is guessing riddles. Various lanterns have riddles pasted on them so that when visitors come, they can guess those riddles. Once the riddle is guesses, it is pulled off from the lantern to determine whether or not the answer is correct. In the case of a correct answer, the person who guessed the riddle is given a prize.
This is an enjoyable activity for all, ranging from children to adults, and is an activity that can be indulged in during the festival.

Street Performances

Another feature of the festival is the dance of the lion and walking on stilts. There are various forms of lion dances as well. In some parts of China, more attention is given to the performance and skills in the dance. In other parts, more attention is given to how well the lion resembles its original form. Since it’s the beginning of the year and everyone wishes to have a good year ahead, the lion dance is performed as a prayer since the lion is seen to be a symbol of strength, courage and protection. Some dances are plain performances but others involve the lion walking on stilts. Various people also walk on stilts, performing difficult feats and amusing the crowd. Attending one of these performances is one of the best ways to pass time on the festival.

Yuanxiao

Yuanxiao, Chinese rice balls stuffed with sesame seeds, sesame bean paste, or jujube paste, are also part of the festival. Since they can be cooked in various ways and have various stuffings, all people can enjoy this snack. These rice balls are round and so represent joy, unity and reunion. Taking part in all these traditions is likely to result in a very enjoyable festive celebration.

Happy Lantern Festival, Here Best places to stay and enjoy with your friends and family.

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