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.
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.
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.
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.
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!