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元宵节/Chinese Lantern Festival

Chinese Lantern Festival – Yuán xiāo jié – 元宵节 is on March 2 in 2018.  It is the fifteenth day of the lunar new year celebration.  It is the time to carry lanterns and enjoy the last day of the Lunar New Year festivities.  The Lantern Festival marks the end of the fifteen days of Chinese Lunar New Year celebration. 

What do people do on Chinese Lantern Festival?  There are three signature activities that most Chinese people do annually.

1.Visit the Lantern Display

In recent years, visiting lantern festival’s lantern exhibition has become a major event not only for Chinese but tourists.  Lantern displays in different cities kick off the beginning of the Chinese New Year celebration and people have plenty of time to enjoy. 

2.Eat Yuan Xiao also known as Tang Yuan

The second tradition is that families will eat sweet or salty sticky rice balls known as “tang yuan” 汤圆 or “yuan xiao” 元宵 on this day.  There are also plain mini rice balls with no fillings inside, like the ones in the pictures below.  We enjoy the sweet sesame filling rice balls very much. We used the sweet rice flour with water to make the mini rice balls. The symbolic meaning for eating “tang yuan” 汤圆 or “yuan xiao” 元宵 is family togetherness.

As the night arrives children carry paper lanterns with battery-operated lights to join the annual lantern festival celebrations, which are typically held at parks and monuments throughout China.  The design of the lanterns change each year according to the rotation of the twelve Chinese animal birth signs.  Here is a picture of the theme lantern for the year of the Rooster.

How do you say that?

Lantern(s) – Dēng lóng 灯笼

Carry a lantern – Tí dēng lóng 提灯笼

2018 is the Year of the DOG.  This year lucky dog lanterns were given away for free to the residents and visitors.  The annual lantern festival attracts international exhibitors to showcase their design of lanterns as well. This festivity makes it a wonderful field trip for families.

There are wonderful lantern festival celebration events in China.  The biggest lantern festival is Qinhuai International Lantern Festival. 


3.Lantern Riddle Game

There is one more tradition on the Lantern Festival that is the Lantern Riddle Game – Yuán xiāo cāi dēng mí 元宵猜灯谜. It is a game for both adults and children. The traditional Chinese Lantern Festival riddles can be quite challenging. Some of the them are based on history and some of them are based on the Chinese characters. The riddles are attached to the lanterns and the person who can solve a riddle can win a prize.

What's More? 

Fly a Lantern!

Sky lantern is called  Tiān dēng 天灯 in Chinese. It is also known as Kǒng míng dēng 孔明灯. You can make your sky lantern or buy one. You write your wishes on the paper sky lantern and then send it into the sky. It is quite a magnificent scene.  Look at the lanterns flying into the sky for the best wishes!

Culture Note: Sky lanterns are also used in Thailand, Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, and other Latin American countries.

Have a Healthy, Happy, and Wonderful Year of the Dog!

狗年 健康 快乐 万事顺心

Gǒu nián  kuài lè   jiàn kāng   Wàn shì shùn xīn