The Lantern Festival in China

What can be greater than Chinese New Year celebrations… Nonetheless, here comes a more truly beautiful and symbolic Lantern Festival that carries enormous sacredness and philosophical meaning.

lantern festival 2023

In China, the Lantern Festival (元宵节 Yuánxiāojié)  is celebrated on the last day of the Spring Festival (Chun Jie, the Chinese New Year) and marks the end of the New Year celebrations. All New Year decorations are taken down these days.

Lantern Festival appears to be the first full moon of the New Year according to the Chinese calendar, and this year it is celebrated on February 5.

The ancient Chinese gathered in the family circle to light the colorful lights together.

On this day, the Chinese light lanterns and launch fireworks, enjoy the beauty of the full moon, make wishes, eat tang yuan (yuanxiao), and watch the traditional lion and dragon dances.

The lighting of lanterns is the most important ritual on this holiday.  Walking through the streets, citizens carry lanterns of various shapes and sizes. The lanterns often depict traditional Chinese characters.

One of the meanings of the word “lantern” (in Chinese -灯 dēng) is translated as “newborn baby boy.” Thus, Lantern lighting symbolizes the awakening of a new life, birth. This ritual is especially essential for the Chinese because they truly believe and know that it brings hope for a brighter future and the realization of their deepest desires.

Another popular tradition is Guessing Lantern Riddles. This tradition has been preserved since the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Riddles are written right on the lanterns. People gather in the crowd and try to guess the riddle. Anyone who has managed to guess the most riddles can be awarded some gifts.

One of the most famous traditional folk dances in China is considered the lion dance. Its appearance dates back to the Three Kingdoms period (220-280). The Chinese have always associated the lion with the symbol of courage and strength. Therefore, the lion dance was performed not only during the Lantern Festival but as well as during all important events. The Chinese people believe that this dance expels evil and saves good people.

In addition, on this day, the Chinese eat “tangyuan (汤圆 tāngyuán /tung-yuen/ ‘soup round’) soup with sweet rice dumplings or boiled “cakes”. Tangyuan is made from rice flour with different fillings inside. Traditionally, they are filled with sugar, marmalade paste, peanuts, sesame seeds, nuts, legumes, and even rose petals. Tangyuan can be boiled, steamed, or fried.

It is noteworthy that tang yuan is pronounced similarly tuanyuan (团圆 / Twan-ywen / «family circle”). The Chinese believe that the round ball and bowl shape symbolizes integrity and unity. Therefore, eating tang yuan during Lantern Festival is a way to express their deepest wishes for their family and future life.

Moreover, it is believed that during the New Year celebration, the souls of ancestors go down to celebrate with their family, but during the Lantern Festival, they come back, and millions of small heavenly lanterns, lighted on this day, illuminate their path…

In conclusion, we want to congratulate all of you and especially our Chinese colleagues! We wish you clear horizons, may all your dreams come true, and a lot of fun and success!

Happy Lantern Festival! 元宵节快乐!

Sincerely, Parcel Up (Taobao FOCUS) team!