Chinese New Year 2024: What is Lantern Festival and how is it celebrated? - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Chinese New Year 2024: What is Lantern Festival and how is it celebrated?

Feb 09, 2024 03:49 PM IST

During the Lantern Festival, also known as Shangyuan Festival, houses are decorated with vibrant lanterns, with riddles written on them.

On the fifteenth day of the lunar calendar's first month (Yuan), people in China and other Asian nations, including Vietnam and Korea, celebrate the Lantern Festival, a holiday honoring their departed ancestors.

The main objective of celebrating the Lantern Festival is to encourage forgiveness, peace, and reconciliation.(Unsplash)
The main objective of celebrating the Lantern Festival is to encourage forgiveness, peace, and reconciliation.(Unsplash)

The main objective of celebrating the Lantern Festival is to encourage forgiveness, peace, and reconciliation. This day marks the first full Moon of the new lunar year and the conclusion of the Chinese New Year.

Hindustan Times - your fastest source for breaking news! Read now.

During the Lantern Festival, also known as Floating Lanterns Festival or Shangyuan Festival, houses are decorated with vibrant lanterns, with riddles written on them. The first person to solve the riddle wins a gift. Known as ‘yuanxiao’ or ‘tangyuan’, the little balls of sticky rice stuffed with fruits and nuts are consumed throughout the celebration. The balls' rounded shapes stand for the family's oneness and wholeness.

Every year, the event lasts for 15 days, starting on the new moon that falls between January 21 and February 20 on Western calendars.

Also Read: History of Chinese New Year celebrations in China

A bridge decorated with lanterns at Beijing park.(AP )
A bridge decorated with lanterns at Beijing park.(AP )

History of Lantern Festival

The origins of the Lantern Festival can be traced back to over 2,000 years ago. The festival's inception can be linked to Emperor Ming's rule over the Han dynasty, which happened at the same time when Buddhism spread throughout China. A patron of Buddhism, Emperor Ming observed the festival by lighting lanterns in temples. He then directed countrymen to follow the suit, which gradually became a common tradition.

Chinese characters and traditional decorations were projected on the outer walls.(AP )
Chinese characters and traditional decorations were projected on the outer walls.(AP )

There is an alternative version regarding the festival's origins that traces it back to the Han era when Ti Yin, the North Star deity, was said to be involved. Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty was very mindful of this day. He declared it one of the most important festivities in 104 BC and that the ceremony would last all night.

Significance of Lantern Festival

China observes the Lantern Festival to keep friends and families intact together. During the festival, kids carry paper lanterns and solve riddles written on them. The lanterns' lighting could stand for people letting go of the past and starting a new year with hope and optimism. Usually, the lanterns are red to symbolize abundance.

Also Read: Happy Chinese New Year 2024: Wishes, images, quotes, greetings, WhatsApp and Facebook status to celebrate Lunar New Year

Much of the festivities involve visiting temples and burning sticks of incense to please traditional Chinese deities.(AP )
Much of the festivities involve visiting temples and burning sticks of incense to please traditional Chinese deities.(AP )

The Year of the Dragon

Based on the lunar calendar, the Chinese zodiac, or Sheng Xiao, is a recurring 12-year cycle of animal signs and their characteristics.

The Lunar New Year marks the transition from one animal to another -- like the year of the Rabbit started on January 22, 2023 and concluded on February 9, 2024. Likewise, the Year of the Dragon, which last occurred in 2012, begins on February 10.

Lantern Festival preparations and celebrations

Ahead of the Lantern Festival, houses are meticulously cleaned to ward off any ill luck from the previous year. People are also advised to pay off any debts before the start of the new year.

Buying new clothes and hanging spring festival couplets on windows or doors are also part of customs associated with the Lunar New Year.

China’s Lantern Festival marks the end of Lunar New Year festivities.(AP)
China’s Lantern Festival marks the end of Lunar New Year festivities.(AP)

People also clean their ancestors' tombs on New Year's Eve. The large family reunion dinner begins after hanging of red lanterns and Spring Festival couplets. This banquet is said to be the year's most significant feast as families enjoy sharing scrumptious and auspicious meals together.

The little red envelopes with money inside, known in Mandarin as "hong bao," are given as lucky charms to coworkers, friends, family, and children. Red is a color connected to vitality, happiness, and good fortune in Chinese culture.

Unlock a world of Benefits with HT! From insightful newsletters to real-time news alerts and a personalized news feed – it's all here, just a click away! - Login Now!

Check Latest News on Lifestyle, Fashion and Anti-Valentine's Week 2024 List along with Festivals and Travel at Hindustan Times.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    author-default-90x90

    Follow the latest breaking news and developments from India and around the world with Hindustan Times' newsdesk. From politics and policies to the economy and the environment, from local issues to national events and global affairs, we've got you covered.

SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, March 04, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On