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Chinese Lantern Festival Celebrations

The Chinese Lantern Festival takes place at the end of the Chinese New Year celebration which is fifteen days after Chinese New Year day.  It coincides with the first full moon of the New Year.

The Chinese Lantern Festival is the most ancient of all Chinese festivals. Historians have traced this celebration to ancient fire worship, fertility rites and the honoring of the birth of Daoism and Buddhism.  The exact origin is still debated by scholars today.

Stories and legends vary from the Chinese chasing spirits by lantern light to a lonely girl during the Han Dynasty tricking the emperor to have a festival.  During the T’ang Dynasty, families simply watch in awe the beauty of the full moon after the New Year.

Chinese Lantern Festival

Photo Credit: Lantern Festival 06 5 & 06 3 - Yee Wong

While the Chinese New Year focuses on the family, the Chinese Lantern Festival involves the entire community.  The Chinese Lantern Festival has evolved to have religious, civic, political and commercialism elements.  Displaying the lanterns,  watching lion and dragon dances, and eating festival foods are activities on this special day.

The night is usually lit by a full moon.  The Chinese believed that the evil spirits roam free on the night of the full moon after the New Year.  The community gathers during the night to show their lit lanterns which is usually made of silk, paper or wood.  It is believed that the light from the lanterns is supposed to ward off the evil spirits because the lantern light makes the evil spirits visible.   Afraid of being seen, the evil spirits run from the lanterns.

Chinese Lantern Festival - Facts & Rituals

The Lantern and the Chinese Lantern Festival hold some of the mystic behind the Chinese traditions and culture:

As a westerner venturing to China whether on business or pleasure, you need to observe the local tradition of adhering to this event as a day for relaxation and leisure.

Chinese Lantern Festival Origins