Red Lantern Festival: Traditional festival to celebrate Lunar New Year in China


( Red Lantern Festival is a traditional festival to celebrate Lunar New Year in China.

Red Lantern Festival, an annual event that marks the final day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations, is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunisolar Chinese calendar.

Photo: Ed Jones

During the festival, the whole China town is decorated with numerous lightings. Apart from marking the end of New Year celebrations, Red Lantern Festival is also a good occasion for everyone to wish for a new year full of peace and happiness.

Photo: AP

The lanterns can symbolize the people letting go of their past selves and getting new ones, which they will let go of the next year. The lanterns are almost always red to symbolize good fortune.

However, its roots trace back more than 2000 years ago and is popularly linked to the reign of Emperor Ming of Han at the time when Buddhism was growing in China. Emperor Ming was an advocate of Buddhism and noticed Buddhist monks would light lanterns in temples on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month.

Photo: Kim Kyung Hoon

As a result, Emperor Ming ordered all households, temples and the imperial palace to light lanterns on that evening. From there it developed into a folk custom.

Red Lantern Festival is considered as a spiritual event of Chinese  people. It was believed that lantern’s lighting will expel darkness in winter and signify an upcoming spring. 

Photo: Getty Images

After the event, all decorations are taken down and everyone will come back to work in the following day.

In the late evening, the festival is expecting an influx of thousand visitors into the streets of China town. Tourists can feast their eyes on thousands of lanterns hung up on the sky and participate in many activities throughout the festival.

In the past, Red Lantern Festival is also an ideal destination for the young who wanted to find love.

Thousands of visitors can enjoy jubilant atmosphere at Red Lantern festival every second as firework display, dragon dance and art shows are continuously performed throughout the event.

In addition, some other Chinese traditional activities like carrying out lantern paper and solving riddles on the lanterns are also attracting many people’s attention.

Photo: Kim Kyung Hoon

One of the highlights in this festival is flower garlands and coloured lanterns festival. Everyone writes their wishes for new year on paper and then release to let them fly into the sky. Local people believe that lantern paper will help them send their wishes to the Gods.

Observing a night sky lit up by hundred dots of sparkling light that represent one’s love and hope will be a remarkable experience. 

Photo: New Taipei City Government

Except for traditional red lantern, those artists who involve in festival decoration also design some samples of creative lanterns in various shapes and materials.

Indeed, all lanterns displayed in the festival are not only used for embellishment, but also for releasing them into water and flying them into the sky. The whole scenery creates a masterpiece of both creative and Chinese tradional style of arts. 

Photo: Video Blocks

Apart from actitivites, cuisine is also an indispensible custom of Red Lantern Festival, typically floating cake. Floating cake in China is made from glutinous rice flour, stuffed with black sesame, sugar, peanut or red, black and blue beans…

According to different regions, floating cake has a typical method of processing such as boiling, steaming and frying. However, boiling process is still the most popular. Floating cake is boiled and then used with rice wine.

Photo: Jean Trinh

Chinese people believe that the round shape of floating cake is a symbol of entirety. Besides, a small bowl full of floating cakes is a metaphor for a scene in which all family members gather together. Hence, floating cake is also an emblem of family reunion.

Photo: VCG

Indeed, visitors can enjoy numerous areas of red lantern display within China town throughout the event. However, the places most natives often gather are Confucius Temple in Nam Kinh metropolis, Ha Mon city, Peach garden in Shanghai city and Viet Tu Park in GuangZhou city. These areas are also the best places of red lantern display. 

Photo: AFP

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