Lantern Festival: A China Style

Held two weeks after the Lunar New Year, the Lantern Festival is one of the liveliest and most entertaining festivals for the Chinese. It falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month, usually in February or March in the solar calendar. Since the first lunar month is called yuan-month, the day is called Yuan Xiao Festival in China. 

There are many legends behind the lantern festival - some claim it celebrates the success of a palace coup in the Han Dynasty (BC202-AD220), while others maintain it began when an emperor recovered from a serious illness. But what the Lantern Festival really means is a chance to stroll with your friends through streets set with countless bright red lanterns.  

According to the Chinese tradition, at the very beginning of a new year, when there is a bright full moon hanging in the sky, there should be thousands of colorful lanterns hung out for people to appreciate. Till today, the lantern festival is still held each year around the country. Lanterns of various shapes and sizes are hung in the streets, attracting countless visitors. Children will hold self-made or bought lanterns to stroll with on the streets, extremely excited.

Teams of artists create dozens of huge lanterns by crafting wooden frameworks and covering them with translucent colored paper. Often standing over two meters tall, they depict legendary creatures, the animals of the Chinese zodiac, famous buildings, and sometimes even world events - an enormous lantern was once built to celebrate China's entry into the World Trade Organization.

The Lantern Festival is further enriched by the customary lantern riddle parties that are held on this night. "Guessing lantern riddles” is an essential part of the Festival. Lantern owners write riddles on a piece of paper and post them on the lanterns. If visitors have solutions to the riddles, they can pull the paper out and go to the lantern owners to check their answer. If they are right, they will get a little gift.