Taking place on February 8th, the Lantern Festival marks the end of the Spring Festival, also called the Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year.
Started over 2,000 years ago, the festival celebrates family and society. It is a time for socializing and freedom as in Ancient China, this was the only day that women could freely stroll around and interact with men. The festival is also important religiously as it was used to honor the gods in Ancient China.
During the lantern festival much of the focus is on the lanterns, however there are other activities such as lion dances which can be seen during any festive event. There may also be stilt performances in which the performers sing and dance on stilts.
During the festival, people often write riddles on the lanterns. These riddles are popular with many people because they require you to think outside the box. When you think you've solved the riddle, you can find the lantern owner and check your answer. If it's correct, you can get a small gift as a prize. Some people even catch the attention of the person they like during this game!
Yuan Xiao also known as Tang Yuan in the south is traditionally eaten during the Lantern Festival. These glutinous rice dumplings are stuffed with different fillings such as sugar, sesame seeds, peanuts and rose petals and are customarily served in a fermented rice soup. Both the round shape of the dumplings and bowls symbolize togetherness and wholeness, so eating this dish is a way to express best wishes for the family.
Want to experience the Lantern Festival for yourself? Start by first checking out the China visa requirements here.