Year Date of Lantern
2012 February 6 2013 February 24 2014 February 14 2015 March 5 2016 February 22 2017 February 11
Falling on the 15th day of the first lunar month, Lantern Festival is the first significant feast after Spring Festival, so called because the most important activity during the night of the event is watching various wonderful Chinese lanterns. And because every household eats yuanxiao (a rice ball stuffed with different fillings) on that day, it is called Yuan Xiao Festival. For its rich and colorful activities, it is regarded as the most recreational among all the Chinese festivals and a day for appreciating the bright full moon, and family reunion.
Customs and Activities:
Colorful Lanterns sold on the Street
More Lantern Festival Pictures
During the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD), Buddhism flourished in China. So in order to popularize Buddhism, one of the emperors gave an order to light lanterns in the imperial palace to worship and show respect for Buddha on the 15th day of the first lunar month. During the Tang (618 - 907), Song (960 - 1279), Ming (1368 - 1644) and Qing (1644 - 1911) dynasties, lighting lanterns became a tradition for Chinese people.
Today, when the festival comes, red lanterns can be seen in the street, in each house, and store. In the parks, lanterns of various shapes and types attract countless visitors. Visitors marvel that various lanterns so vividly demonstrate traditional Chinese folklore.
Guessing Lantern Riddles
Lantern Fair held on Xian City Wall
Because this intellectual activity is exciting, people from all walks of life enjoy it.
Folk Dances: Lion Dance, and Walking on Stilts
Derived from the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), the lion dance is an excellent traditional art that adds infinite fun to any celebration including the Lantern Festival. Two performing types have formed during its long development. In north China, the lion dance focuses on skills, and in the south the lion dance pays more attention to the animal resemblance. One actor manipulates a small lion made of quilts resembling a real one, and with two persons acting like a big lion, one manages the head part and the other, the rest. Under the guidance of a director, the lions sometimes jump, leap, and do difficult acts such as walking on stilts.
Walking on stilts, another folk art, traces its origins to the Spring and Autumn period (770BC - 476BC). Performers not only walk on stilts by binding them to their feet, but also do some breathtakingly difficult moves. As actors impersonate different characters like monks, clowns, and fishermen and perform vivid and humorous acts, the art amuses many people.
Yuanxiao, the special food
for the Lantern Festival
Besides these activities, there is Welcoming Zigu (a kind and poor girl in folklore), in which women make straw and cloth images of Zigu and say consoling words to her expressing people's goodness and their pity for the poor. Because appreciating the lanterns offers a good chance for young boys and girls to communicate with each other, the Lantern Festival is also regarded as Chinese Valentine's Day.
Video of 2012 Xian Lantern Festival on the City Wall
Video of Yangko Dance during Lantern Festival
2014 / 2015 / 2016 China Public Holiday Calendar is available for you to know the schedule of all holidays in China and better make your travel plan.
Chinese Festival Food introducing various delicous dim sum unique to traditional China festivals.