As the largest population that is equivalent to almost one-fifth population in the world, China spreads its unique culture through the Chinese Lantern Festival that is celebrated all over the planet. The yearly celebration takes place fifteen days after the Chinese Lunar New Year. Some people might think that the Chinese Lantern Festival is just a lantern show. However, it’s not simply a good luck festival, instead it’s also a window into the unique intercultural dialogue between the Iranian and Chinese civilizations.
Furthermore, other cultures and practices, like Buddhism and Daoism, have influenced the Chinese Lantern Festival over time. As a result, it has subsequently evolved into a one-of-a-kind festival for all Chinese people around the world. No wonder that the Chinese Lantern Festival always brings its own charm to whoever sees it. Well, celebrating this event will not be that complete if you don’t know unique and fun facts behind it. To satisfy your curiosity, we will reveal some amazing Chinese Lantern Festival facts that will blow your mind.
Table of Contents
- 1. The First Chinese Lantern Festival Is More Than 2,000 Years Ago
- 2. Red Color Domination
- 3. Popular As “First Night” Festival
- 4. The Symbolic Chinese Lantern
- 5. The Largest Chinese Lantern Festival
- 6. Guessing Riddles In Tiger Lanterns
- 7. The World’s Largest Lantern Sculpture
- 8. The One and Only Lantern Museum in China
- 9. Fantastic Four Major Lantern Festivals in China
- 10. The Best Places To View Lanterns In China
- 11. Yuanxiao’s Specialty In Taste for Chinese Lantern Festival
- 12. The World’s Largest Standing Lantern
- 13. Chinese Valentine’s Day
- 14. Dragon Lantern Dance Scares Evil Spirit
- 15. The Story Of Nian Monster
1. The First Chinese Lantern Festival Is More Than 2,000 Years Ago
Maybe you are curious about the origin of this wonderful festival. In fact, the Chinese Lantern Festival has been celebrated since more than 2,000 years ago. The first lanterns, according to historians, were used during the Eastern Han Dynasty. On the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, Emperor Han Mingdi, a Buddhist, found monks who lit lanterns at temples to offer homage to Buddha. He subsequently ordered the lighting of lanterns in all temples, residences, and royal palaces that evening, which became known as the Lantern Festival.
Furthermore, another legend mentioned about the festival’s origins tells of the Jade Emperor, who was enraged in a town after his goose was killed. Therefore, he intended to burn the town down, but a fairy intervened, advising the citizens to light lanterns across the town on the scheduled day of destruction.
2. Red Color Domination
When you heard about the Chinese Lantern Festival, we are sure that one color that definitely will pop to your mind is red. Well, this celebration is indeed a red color festival that will transform all things like clothes, lanterns, and even other decorations into red color. Maybe you wonder, why should it always be red?
Generally, the red color is seen to represent warmth, happiness, and good fortune in Chinese culture. As a result, Chinese lanterns are traditionally red and oval in shape, with red and gold tassels. Not to mention, it’s also considered China’s national color.
3. Popular As “First Night” Festival
You might find this Chinese Lantern Festival a weird celebration due to “First Night” as its unusual popular name. In fact, this event is actually popular as it is, which marks the celebration to see a full moon on the “first night” of Chinese New Year. In this festival, thousands of colorful lanterns are set up to appreciate the start of a new year.
When there is the first bright full moon hanging in the sky, the ceremony of blowing lanterns takes place, followed by a three-course supper with friends and family under the glittering sky. Moreover, people will strive to solve the puzzles on the lanterns and enjoy delicious yuanxiao at this time, bringing their entire families together in the festive atmosphere.
4. The Symbolic Chinese Lantern
Did you know that the first Chinese lantern was actually made from paper during the Han Dynasty? Aside from the humble material, it gives deep meaning and symbol which is full of hope and prayer. Instead of the red color meaning that you already know, other aspects also have wonderful messages.
The circular shape, which is reminiscent of the full moon, which presides over the Lantern Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival in China, represents wholeness and unity. Moreover, the Chinese calligraphy in the lantern also represents beautiful wishes for a long and healthy life as well as a prosperous and wealthy future. Not to mention, the beautiful dragon’s art represents power along with Chinese zodiac animals are also attached into the lantern design. What an amazing art of work!
5. The Largest Chinese Lantern Festival
As you may be amazed with the beauty of this celebration, you probably want to join the world’s largest Chinese Lantern Festival. Well, the Pingxi Lantern Festival in Taipei is now the world’s largest, attracting thousands of people each year for a week of festivities.
This celebration takes place every year in Pingxi District, a mountainous location about an hour’s drive east of Taipei. Lantern releases are held in the remote villages of Jington, Pingxi, and Shifen on the first full moon of the Lunar New Year, which is usually in February or March. What makes it more interesting, these were formerly intended to notify villagers that they were safe and sound, but now they transmit people’s wishes and dreams for the coming year into the night sky.
6. Guessing Riddles In Tiger Lanterns
Another unique tradition during the Chinese Lantern Festival is solving the riddles which are put in the lantern. Maybe you wonder, where does this fun activity come from? It all started when advisors to the emperor in the past, who had ideas that they didn’t think would go down well, conveyed them to him in cryptic riddles. So if the emperor didn’t like the advice, they might claim it was misinterpreted!
Other people found riddles to be a fun pastime, and their popularity grew beyond the palace walls. It became a technique for both the creators and the solvers of riddles to show off their knowledge. Solving some of these puzzles was said to be more difficult than fighting a tiger, and the riddles on the lanterns were dubbed lantern tigers. These days, the puzzles aren’t as difficult as tiger wrestling, and you don’t need to study thousands of years of history to solve them. They’re just plain entertaining!
7. The World’s Largest Lantern Sculpture
The Chinese Lantern Festival also gained an outstanding world record in history. In 2011, Hong Kong’s Victoria Park staged the largest Mid-Autumn Festival, which also set a Guinness World Record for the largest lantern sculpture. The fish-shaped sculpture was 36 x 9 x 13 meters in size (119 x 31 x 43 feet). It took 35 workers and 13 days to construct 2,360 traditional Chinese lanterns. Today, this Hong Kong festival is regarded as China’s greatest Mid-Autumn Festival celebration. In this festival, you may see kung fu demonstrations, fire dragon dances, and lantern displays, among other things.
8. The One and Only Lantern Museum in China
Although the amazing celebration is originally from China, it doesn’t have many museums to keep this legendary history. In fact, The Zigong Lantern Museum is the only one of its kind in China, and is regarded as one of the Three Wonders of Zigong. It is located in the “Lantern Town of the South Kingdom” in Zigong, Sichuan Province.
The Lantern Museum is vital to the preservation of Chinese lanterns and other old cultural artifacts. The stunning lantern displays at the museum are well worth a visit. Between February 8 and February 13, Zigong presents a magnificent lantern festival in addition to the museum. The celebration is noted for its rich tradition and local flavor.
9. Fantastic Four Major Lantern Festivals in China
Lanterns have become an essential item during celebrations in China. In fact, people all throughout China light lanterns during these four events: the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Chinese New Year, the Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, and of course, the Lantern Festival. The greatest time to see Chinese lanterns is indeed during the Lantern Festival. It usually takes place between February 5 and March 7 on the fifteenth day of the first Chinese lunar month. The festival’s major activity is lighting and watching gorgeous lanterns with friends and family.
10. The Best Places To View Lanterns In China
As you know, there are various types of adorable Chinese Lantern Festival. Therefore, seeing the beauty of flying and floating lanterns in the lantern festival is a once in a lifetime opportunity. If you are interested in this amazing festival, then you should see those lanterns from the best place. While the beauty of those lanterns are celebrated all over China, there are some best places such as Nanjing, Beijing, and Pingyao which are popular to view the lantern festival. You can witness the throngs of people, the numerous decorations, the flower-adorned floats, the colorful parades, competitions, speeches, and traditional music.
11. Yuanxiao’s Specialty In Taste for Chinese Lantern Festival
Every festival has something unique to taste, and how could the lantern festival be any different? During the Chinese Lantern Festival, Yuanxiao is a dumpling prepared from sticky rice flour with fillings and represents the celebrations. According to tradition, eating yuanxiao during the Chinese Lantern Festival symbolizes family harmony, fulfillment, and joy.
Similar to other cuisines put on the table, Yuanxiao is popular due to its shape and various tasty fillings. The fillings inside Yuanxiao are either sweet or salty. In addition, a variety of comparable recipes are also placed on the table, and a delicious but suspicious supper is shared with friends and family under the full moon.
12. The World’s Largest Standing Lantern
In case you wonder how tall a standing lantern can be, we have the precise answer for you! In 2020, another world record was set for the largest standing lantern in the world. The largest sky lantern measures 20.13 m (66 ft 0 in) high, 32.87 m (107 ft 10 in) wide. It was achieved by the Tang Paradise of Qujiang New Area in Xi’an, Shaanxi, China, on 17 January 2020. The lantern, which depicted a big peacock and was the symbol of the lantern festival in Tang Paradise of Qujiang New Area. In addition, it was used to welcome guests and celebrate the Chinese lunar new year.
13. Chinese Valentine’s Day
In Chinta, the Chinese Lantern Festival is not just a lantern show. The Lantern Festival is also known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day in ancient China, a day dedicated to celebrating love and affection amongst partners. In the past, young females were not permitted to leave the house except during the Lantern Festival. Therefore, during the festival, single folks used to carry lit lanterns along the street in the hopes of finding their true mate. Moreover, the brightest lanterns represent good fortune that will come to them.
14. Dragon Lantern Dance Scares Evil Spirit
Today, dragon lantern dances can be seen at various sites in China from Chinese New Year’s Day until the Lantern Festival. During the Chinese Lantern Festival, you are going to watch amazing dragon lantern dances in many places. Some people admire the beauty of the dance moves, while others might be scared. And, this fear may also happen to those evil spirits around. Dragon lantern dance is thought to be a technique to ward off evil spirits and offer good fortune to those who wear them. Moreover, if one is touched by the dragon, it is considered lucky.
15. The Story Of Nian Monster
One of those evil spirits that will be really scared of lanterns during the Chinese Lantern festival is Nian Monster. Nian used to be a creature who hides in the mountains, according to legend. Once a year, in the winter, it emerges to feast on the crops and villagers. Nian’s appearance, on the other hand, instilled fear. Therefore, families gathered the night Nian arrived, staying up all night hoping the threats would fade away.
Furthermore, people gradually began to recognize Nian’s flaws. They discovered that Nian was vulnerable to fire, the color red, and loud noises. And then, people began to hang portraits and red lanterns, light fires, and set off firecrackers. Finally, Nian was frightened by these methods. This tradition of celebrating monster defeats has been carried on to this day.