How to Celebrate the Lantern Festival (Correctly)

Want to celebrate the Lantern Festival? Here's how.

99 points

元宵节快乐!Happy Lantern Festival!

The Lantern Festival is the Chinese holiday that celebrates the end of the two-week Spring Festival. Its held on the 15th day of the first month of the year and this year falls on February 19th.  

The festival has a long history. It started during the Han Dynasty in the first century and celebrates the coming of spring and the togetherness of the family. 

Here are some ways to celebrate the Lantern Festival.

  1. 1 Hang Lanterns

    Chinese communities will hang lanterns on the streets outside shops and houses. As the festival looks to the arrival of spring, lanterns symbolize lighting the path and keeping the future looking bright. Many places also release lanterns that fly into the sky or let lanterns float away on a river. Lanterns are traditionally red and gold, which signify  good fortune and happiness. 

    If you do not want to buy lanterns, you can make them using only paper, scissors, and glue. Here are some websites with instructions: 



  2. 2 Visit a Lantern Fair

    Many cities with large Chinese communities also host lantern fairs with giant, handmade silk lanterns. These lanterns are often shaped like animals or Chinese architecture. 

    Fairs usually have dozens of elaborate lanterns and people can walk around and take pictures. Here are some fairs happening in the U.S.

    Syracuse, NY: https://www.lanternfestnys.com/

    San Francisco, CA: https://lanternlightfestival.com/san-francisco/

    Miami, FL: https://lanternlightfestival.com/miami/

    Chicago, IN: http://dragonlightschicago.com/

  3. 3 Share a Meal with Family and Friends

    An important part of the Spring Festival is bringing the family together, and families will try to get together one last time before the festival ends.

    The traditional food to eat during the Lantern Festival is yuanxiao (元宵). More commonly known as tangyuan (汤圆), these are small glutinous rice balls served in soup. The rice balls can have fillings such as sugar, nuts, seeds, or bean paste. The round shape of the balls symbolizes togetherness.

  4. 4 Watch a Lion Dance

    Many Chinese communities around the world have performers that will stage lion dances during important holidays. Lions are symbols of strength and courage, and a lion dance is meant to chase evil away for the new year. The dance is performed by two dancers in a lion costume--one as the head and front legs and one as the back legs. The lion will dance along to a drum, cymbals and a gong as well as do tricks, flips and walk on stilts.

  5. 5 Guess the Lantern Riddles

    Some lanterns have riddles written on tags hanging from the bottom. People will then walk around the lanterns and try to guess the riddles. This can be done for prizes or just for fun. 

    Can you guess these lantern riddles?

    #1: 内里有人(打一字)

    Translation: A person inside (guess a character)

    #2: 上下一体(打一字) 

    Translation: Up and down as a whole (guess a character)

    #3: 中间是火山,四边是大海。海里宝贝多,快快捞上来(打一日常用品)

    Translation: The middle is a volcano, the four sides are the big sea. In the sea there are many treasures, quickly scoop out them all (guess a daily necessity)

    #4: 生在山里,死在锅里,藏在瓶里,活在杯里 (打一植物)

    Translation: Born in the mountains, died in the pot, hidden in the bottle, alive in the cup (guess a plant)


    #1: 肉    The character for meat looks like the character 内 (inside) with another 人 (person) inside.

    #2. 卡   The character for card looks like the character 上 (up) on top of the character 下 (down).

    #3. 火锅 (hot pot) The soup in the middle of a hot pot bubbles because it is directly above the flame. Then you put different foods in the pot and pick them out. 

    #4. 茶叶 (tea leaves) Tea is grown in tea fields on the sides of mountains, then added to boiling water in a pan to dry them, stored in a bottle, and put in a cup. 

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Erin Dumke

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