The Lantern Festival is celebrated every year on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar. The customs of the festival vary around the world, but it is generally celebrated by watching flowers, guessing lantern riddles, and in the same way as Eastern Valentine’s Day.
Traditional Lantern Festival Customs
1. Eating Lantern Festival
The Lantern Festival has a long history in China. In the Song Dynasty, a novel food was popular among the people to eat on the Lantern Festival. This food was first called “floating yuanzi” and later “yuanxiao”, and business people also called it “yuanbao”. The dumplings are filled with sugar, rose, sesame, bean paste, yellow cinnamon, walnuts, nuts, date paste, etc. and wrapped in a circle with glutinous rice flour, which can be meat or vegetarian with different flavors. It can be boiled in soup, deep-fried or steamed, and has the meaning of reunion and happiness.
2. lantern watching
During the reign of Emperor Ming of Han Dynasty, Emperor Ming advocated Buddhism, when Cai solemnly returned from India, saying that on the 15th day of the first month in India, monks gathered to worship the Buddha’s relics, which was an auspicious time to visit the Buddha. In order to promote Buddhism, Emperor Ming of the Han Dynasty ordered the burning of lamps in the palace and monasteries on the 15th day of the first month to show the Buddha. Since then, the custom of releasing lanterns at the Lantern Festival has spread to the people from being held only in the palace. In other words, on the 15th day of the first month, both the scholar and the common people hang lanterns, and the city and countryside are lit up all night long.
The custom of putting up lanterns at the Lantern Festival developed into an unprecedented lantern market in the Tang Dynasty, when Chang’an, the capital city, was already the world’s largest metropolis with millions of people and an affluent society. Under the personal initiative of the emperor, the Lantern Festival became more and more luxurious. After the Middle Tang Dynasty, it developed into a national carnival. In the heyday of the Tang Emperor Xuanzong, the lantern market in Chang’an was very large, with 50,000 lanterns burning and a wide variety of lanterns, and the emperor ordered a giant lantern building, 20 rooms wide and 150 feet high, with a spectacular golden light.
In Taiwan folklore, lanterns have the meaning of light and adding children, and the lighting of the lanterns has the meaning of illuminating the future, and the Taiwanese word lantern and ding harmonically represents the birth of a boy, so in the past, women would deliberately wander around the lanterns on the Lantern Festival, hoping to have a boy.
3. Chinese Valentine’s Day
The Lantern Festival is also a romantic festival, Lantern Festival in the traditional feudal society, also gives an opportunity for unmarried men and women to meet, the traditional society of young girls are not allowed to go out freely, but the festival can be accompanied out to play, Lantern Festival is an opportunity for friendship, unmarried men and women to enjoy the lanterns can also take the opportunity to look for their own object. During the Lantern Festival, it is also the time for young men and women to meet their lovers.
4. walking hundred diseases
The Lantern Festival is not only a celebration, but also an activity of faith. The participants are mostly women, who walk in pairs or by the wall, or across the bridge to the outskirts, in order to drive away diseases and remove disasters.
5. Tossing and fishing tangerine
During the Lantern Festival in Malaysia, unmarried women gather at the riverside to throw tangerines and write their names and contact information on the tangerines, hoping to meet a partner who can walk together. Unmarried men will do the tandoori.