Today is the Chinese Lantern Festival!
The Chinese Lantern Festival is a tradition that has been observed for over 2,000 years.
While the celebrations focused on the eve of the new year according to the Chinese calendar are very focused on spending time with family, the Lantern Festival brings everyone out to celebrate – it’s a time to socialise and celebrate freedom.
This focus on socialising links back to some of the customs of Ancient China. During the Han Dynasty, women were generally prohibited from leaving their household, but on the night of the Lantern Festival they are free to wander the streets, to play games, and to light lanterns. This is a night for having fun and potentially for romance.
How to celebrate the Chinese Lantern Festival
When it comes to celebrating this festival, the clue is in the name – this is all about light.
The lanterns that you feature in your celebrations can be any shape or size – from something small that could fit in the palm of your hand, through to something as large as a parade float. You can make lanterns that feature symbolic designs, or they can simply be of a plain design that showcases their light within.
Often, people will write words, riddles, or poems on their lanterns. If you want to signify your affection for someone, you could use your lantern to do that.
What to eat
The symbolic dish of this festival is yuan xiao. These are glutinous rice dumplings with sweet fillings made of syrup, red bean paste, black sesame paste, or any other dessert-style filling. They can be steamed or fried, but are usually boiled and served in hot water.
This dish symbolises family reunion.
While the Lantern Festival is all about going out and socialising, your New Year celebrations should ultimately revolve around spending time with your family.