Home | Web Extra | Interactive | Radio Programs | Categories | More  
CRI Home   •About Us  •Jobs  •Contact Us 
  Local Services: Beijing | London | Sydney | Washington | Beyond Beijing

About Chinese Lanterns
    2007-03-02 14:23:12     CRIENGLISH.com

The Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month, usually in February or March according to the Gregorian calendar.

It marks the end of the Spring Festival.

The Lantern Festival originated as early as the Western Han Dynasty around 2000 years ago, it had become a festival with great significance.

On that day, lanterns of various shapes and sizes are hung in the streets, attracting countless visitors. Excited children carry bought or handmade lanterns as they stroll down the streets.

This day's important activity is watching lanterns. Why? There is a story which goes as follows.

Throughout the Han Dynasty, Buddhism flourished in China.

One emperor heard that Buddhist monks would watch sarira, or remains from the cremation of Buddha's body, and light lanterns to worship Buddha on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month.

So he ordered to light lanterns in the imperial palace and temples to show respect to Buddha on this day. Later, the Buddhist rite developed into a grand festival among common people and its influence expanded from the Central Plains to the whole of China.

Many traditional lanterns are generally very fancy, like palace lanterns, lanterns with revolving figures, gauze lanterns, wall lanterns and glass silk lanterns.

Today, of course, there are electric ones replacing the traditional ones.

On the whole, the laterns consist of a frame made of metal wire or bamboo strips covered with painted paper or a thin gauze.
There is also a kind of a portable redwood frame that can be taken apart and folded up when not in use, which makes a great souvenir.

Guessing lantern riddles is a very popular activity during festivals or other special occasions in China. Lantern owners write riddles on a piece of paper and post them on the lanterns.

If visitors think they know the answers to the riddles, they can pull the paper out of the lanterns and go to the owners to check them.

If they are right, they receive a little gift.

As people will eat yuanxiao, or rice dumplings on this day, it is also called the "Yuanxiao Festival."

Yuanxiao also has another name, tangyuan. It is small dumpling balls made of glutinous rice flour with rose petals, sesame, bean paste, jujube paste, walnut meat, dried fruit, sugar and edible oil as filling.

In the daytime of the Festival, performances such as dragon lantern dance, lion dance, land boat dance, yangge dance, walking on stilts and beating drums will be staged.

On the night, fireworks add to the beautiful scenery already creatd by thousands and thousands of lanterns.

Most families spare some fireworks from the Spring Festival and let them off in the Lantern Festival.

Some local governments will even organize a fireworks party. On the night when the first full moon enters the New Year, people are moved by the fireworks and the imposing bright moon in the sky.



CRIENGLISH.com claims the copyright of all material and information produced originally by our staff. No person, organization and/or company shall reproduce, disseminate or broadcast the content in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of CRIENGLISH.com.

CRIENGLISH.com holds neither liability nor responsibility for materials attributed to any other source. Such information is provided as reportage and dissemination of information but does not necessarily reflect the opinion of or endorsement by CRI.

Web Extra
Countdown to 2009
A wonderful Time of the Year: on Christmas Eve of 2008
Shenzhen Memory
When Modern Dance Meets a Lover of the East

What makes you happy?
A recent survey shows that people feel the happiest when they reach their 60s and 70s. Is it true that we may ignore happiness when we spend all the time looking for it? [China Drive]
 Join us in Talk China
Transcend Yourself
Transcendence is one of the core concepts of the Paralympics. In your life, have you ever transcended yourself to reach a goal? Have you achieved something that you normally wouldn't be able to do? [China Drive]

Radio Programs
Find your favorite program
Ways to Listen
Via shortwave
Via local AM and FM
Via Internet
Hosts A-Z
Help With Listening