The Lantern Festival, also called Yuan Xiao Festival, is a holiday celebrated in China and other Asian countries that honors deceased ancestors on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar (this year is on February 26th). This holiday aims to promote reconciliation, peace and forgiveness. The holiday marks the first full moon of the Lunar New Year and the end of the Chinese New Year (according to the Lunar New Year).
During the festival, the houses are decorated with colored lanterns, often with riddles written on them; the person who solves the riddle correctly earns a small gift. Festival celebrations also include lion and dragon dances, parades and fireworks. Small balls of glutinous rice stuffed with fruit and nuts, called yuanxiao or tangyuan, are eaten during the festival. The round shape of the balls symbolizes wholeness and unity within the family.
The Lantern Festival dates back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC to AD 220), when Buddhist monks lit their lanterns on the fifteenth day of the lunar year in honor of the Buddha. The rite was later adopted by the general population and spread throughout China and other parts of Asia.
A legend about the origin of the festival tells the story of the Jade Emperor (You Di), who got angry with a city for killing his goose. He intended to destroy the city with fire, but was thwarted by a fairy who advised people to light lanterns throughout the city on the appointed day for the destruction. The emperor, deceived by all the light, thought that the city was already engulfed in flames. The city was spared and, in gratitude, people continued to commemorate the event each year by carrying colored lanterns throughout the city.
Author: Alessandro Ave
On this website we use proprietary or third-party tools that store small files (cookies) on your device.
By enabling these cookies, you help us to offer you a better experience.