Chinese Lantern Festival – Yuán xiāo jié – 元宵節 Lanterns and Tradition

Year of the Monkey Lantern Festival Little Lanterns for Residents in Taipei (2016)

Year of the Monkey Lantern for Residents in Taipei (2016)


This year Yuán xiāo jié – 元宵節 – Lantern Festival is on February 22 (2016). 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 Chinese New Year celebration. Families eat sweet or salty sticky rice balls known as “tang yuan” 湯圓 or “yuan xiao” 元宵 on this day.  We bought the sweet sesame filling ones from the supermarket an we made the mini ones on our own.  We used the sweet rice flour and food coloring.  It is a fun cooking activity with kids.  HapaMama has a recipe for you to try The Red Bean Soup with Rice Dumplings.

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.

2016 is the Year of the Monkey.  This year monkey-shaped paper lanterns were given away for free to the residents and visitors of new Taipei city. The Taipei Lantern Festival 2016 is located at the Taipei Expo Park.  The theme lantern is in the shape of a gourd that symbolizes fortune and prosperity.  Visitors can enjoy the theme display and various activities.  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.

Year of the Monkey Theme Monkey Lantern

Year of the Monkey Theme Lantern in Taipei Lantern Festival

If you would like to see more fascinating lanterns then you should head to the Taiwan Lantern Festival in Taoyuan for a visit this year.  There are also wonderful lantern festival celebration events in China.  Here you can take a tour at 2016 Lantern show in Shanghai, China.

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!

Last year Miss Panda flew a Sky Lantern with my family in Ecuador.  A friend of ours were able to obtain sky lanterns in Ecuador and we had a fantastic time fly our Sky Lanterns in the New Year’s Eve.  It was a wonderful experience with all our friends in a new country.

Here 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


Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick Garden, London U.K.

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

猴年 健康 快樂 萬事順心 Hóu nián kuài lè jiàn kāng Wàn shì shùn xīn

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Amanda Hsiung-Blodgett
Amanda “Miss Panda” is the founder of Miss Panda Chinese and author of the "Let's Learn Mandarin Chinese with Miss Panda!" CD/MP3 audio program. Amanda is a dynamic language instructor with over 15 years language teaching experience. She created Miss Panda Chinese to share teaching materials that she has developed and used in the classroom and at home with parents and teachers who are also on the exciting bilingual education journey.
  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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