Deep historical and cultural roots go hand-in-hand with the Chinese Lantern Festival, one of the most colorful displays on the planet. The iconic festival is marked during the fifteenth day of the first Chinese lunar month, which normally occurs between February 5 and March 7. Three of the best locations for viewing the gorgeous lanterns are in Nanjing, Beijing and Pingyao. If you can’t travel to China, there are a number of cities across the United States that celebrate the festival. It’s excellent for tourism and exploring Chinese culture.
For those of you who have never attended a Chinese Lantern Festival, here are some basics:
1. Color Red Playing A Key Role.
You will see gorgeous lantern shades made from paper or silk that are traditionally oval-shaped and in red. The vibrant color symbolizes joy, energy, good fortune and vitality.
Families and friends all gather to see these incredible handmade lanterns, and some of them can be quite spectacular in size such as a 400-foot dragon.
The art of lantern-making is a rich one and believed to have started during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220).
The name for “lantern” in Chinese is Denglong (灯笼).
2. Tasting Sticky Rice Balls.
At every Chinese Lantern Festival, one classic dish delights the crowds. Sticky rice balls are either boiled, fried or steamed and made with sweet or savory fillings. Some of these ingredients can include sesame seeds, walnuts, brown sugar, white sugar or jujube paste.
The popular, ball-shaped dumplings are symbolic of togetherness.
3. Solving Lantern Riddles.
Another wonderful aspect you will recognize at the festival are lanterns with riddles written on them. Poetry or prose in words of wisdom are taped to the lanterns by many lantern owners, and if you can decipher the riddle correctly, you are rewarded with a small gift.
It’s a fun activity of problem-solving that festival-goers of all ages enjoy participating in.
4. Watching The Lion Dance.
What would a Chinese Lantern Festival be without the showy lion dance performed to wish you good fortune and ward off evil?
The ancient, traditional dance involves a colorful red and yellow display that includes two very athletic performers in a lion suit, one playing the front, and the other, playing the back of the lion. They tumble, jump and sometimes, walk on stilts while the drum beats, the gong is struck or the cymbals clang.
The big lion’s head is striking to watch during the dance.
The Chinese Lantern Festival has quickly developed into a worldwide event drawing huge crowds each year. It’s an impressive cultural experience, and if you’re lucky to attend, then you understand its awesome message of positivity and goodwill.