Chinese Culture for Kids Series: Chinese Lantern Festival – Yuán xiāo jié – 元宵節 Lanterns and Tradition

Chinese Lantern Festival 2017

Chinese Lantern Festival 2017

Chinese Lantern Festival – Yuán xiāo jié – 元宵節 is on February 11 this year (2017).  It  is the fifteenth day of the lunar new year and it is time to carry the lanterns and celebrate the last day of the Lunar New Year festivities.  The Lantern Festival marks the end of the fifteen days of New Year celebration.

What do people do on Lantern Festival?  There are three activities that most Chinese people participate annually.  In recent years, visiting the lantern festival’s lantern exhibition has become a fun event not only for Chinese but tourists.  Lantern displays in different cities kick off  in the beginning of the Chinese New Year celebration so you have plenty of time to enjoy.  Check out the photos from the Lantern Festival in Taiwan this year below.

The second tradition is that families will eat sweet or salty sticky rice balls known as “tang yuan” 湯圓 or “yuan xiao” 元宵 on this day.  There are the plain mini rice balls with no fillings inside like the ones I made with my children in the picture.  We also enjoy the sweet sesame filling ones.    We used the sweet rice flour with water to make the mini rice balls.  It is a fun cooking activity with kids.  HapaMama has a recipe for you to try The Red Bean Soup with Rice Dumplings.  The Woks of Life has a traditional tang yuan with black sesame filling recipe.  You will have “tang yuan” 湯圓 with the family and the symbolic meaning for eating “tang yuan” 湯圓 or “yuan xiao” 元宵 is family togetherness.

Homemade Mini Rice Balls/dumplings

Homemade Mini Rice Balls/dumplings

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 the island of Taiwan. 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 year of the Rooster.

How do you say?

Lantern(s) – Dēng lóng 燈籠|灯笼

Carry a lanter – Tí dēng lóng 提燈籠 |提灯笼

2017 is the Year of the Rooster.  This year cute chick lanterns were given away for free to the residents and visitors.  The annual lantern festival attracts international exhibitors to show their design of lanterns as well.  This festivity makes it a wonderful field trip for the families.

Chinese Lantern Festival 2017

Chinese Lantern Festival – Year of the Rooster

If you would like to see some fascinating lanterns then you should head to the Taiwan Lantern Festival for a online visit.  The video below will show you the festival in Taipei.

There are wonderful lantern festival celebration events in China.  The biggest lantern festival is Qinhuai International Lantern Festival.  Check out this video tour.

What’s More? 

Lantern Riddle Game!

There is one more tradition on the Lantern Festival that is the Lantern Riddle Game – Yuán xiāo cāi dēng mí 元宵猜燈謎. 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.

Fly a Lantern!

I  flew a Sky Lantern with family and friends before.  It was a wonderful experience.  I would like to show you a short video of the well-known Ping Xi Sky Lantern Festival.  Sky lantern is called  Tiān dēng 天燈 in Chinese.  It is also known as Kǒng míng dēng 孔明燈.  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.

Video: Ping Xi Sky Lantern Festival

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

雞年 健康 快樂 萬事順心 jī nián kuài lè jiàn kāng Wàn shì shùn xīn

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6 Comments
  1. The Chinese lantern festival is so nice! We are not Chinese but since the Philippines have a big Filipino-Chinese community we get to celebrate it too and enjoy the yummy food our friends give.

  2. Floating lanterns are always wonderful to look at. Great give-aways, by the way. These will help people learn more about China and appreciate its culture – and we all know that culture appreciation is very vital for language learning and application. Hope the winners enjoyed their prices!

  3. we like lantern festivel in china too…. it is the most colourful and wonderful event in china… i hope to see this festval in my own eyes…. xie xie

    • It is such a beautiful festival and it is enjoyed in Asian communities around the world. I know that Lantern Festival event in China has even more to offer. I am looking forward to sharing more of it in my future posts. Thank you for your visit. ~Miss Panda

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