Chinese lantern festival. Photo-essay
Lantern Festival is the first major festival after the Chinese new year. This year i had to opportunity to visit the culture street of Tianjin, China, during the lanter festival night. The most important activity is to watch the wonderful Chinese lanterns, admire the full moon and to eat traditional snacks. All in all the feeling is beautiful, everyone’s mood is joyful and everything around is beautifully decorated.
people was everywhere
Once I arrived I noticed two things. First, everything was beautifully decorated and the streets had red lanterns that could be seen anywhere in the street, in each house and store. In this occasion I did picture the culture street in Tianjin and this year the decoration was truly magnificent. Secondly, the crowd was pretty big but everyone was still able to walk. Police presence was also notable, but in a good way, I believe security was doing an okay job everything in order.
LANTERN festival date’s back to ancient times
Lantern festival dates back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). That time Buddhism was flourishing in ancient China. So one of the emperors gave an order to light lanterns inside the imperial palace in order to worship Buddha every year on the 15th day of the first lunar month to popularize Buddhism. Afterwards lighting lanterns became a tradition for Chinese people until today.
The Chinese Lantern festival has over 2000 years of history and contains various traditional customs therefore there is a series of activities that appeal to people of different ages:
- Watching lanterns, fireworks.
- Guessing lantern riddles.
- Folk dances.
- Eating Yuanxiao and other Chinese traditional snacks.
Yuanxiao: is a dumpling ball made of sticky rice flour and stuffed with different fillings. Fillings are made of red bean, rose petals, sesame, bean paste, etc. Yuanxiao is ad important part of the festival. During the night of the festival family members sit together and taste Yuanxiao while appreciating the full moon. I personally hate the taste, and I specially dislike red bean paste, so I can’t comment any further. >:).
THE FESTIVAL IS ALSO KNOWN AS YUANXIAO
And because every household eats the Yuanxiao, therefore the festival got this name: YuanXiao Festival (in Chinese). For its rich and colorful activities its regarded as one of the most beloved and festive among all the Chinese festivals. A day for appreciating the bright full moon, and family reunion.
ADMIRING THE FIREWORKS
Chinese people just love fireworks. This holiday is a good excuse to light up the sky. Although not as many and grandiose as the fireworks at Chinese new year, it’s still possible to admire fireworks all around the city.
TIANJIN HAIHE RIVER
Haihe river crosses the most central-part of Tianjin and is a beautiful sight by itself. On the winter months the river is rock-solid frozen. But on spring the ice melts to add to the beautiful scenery. I must also say this city might not impress anyone on the daytime but is definitively beautiful at night-time. And this river is one of the biggest reasons Tianjin is beautiful at night. I will make another post about this river later on, because is quite a sight.
Guessing riddles is also regarded as an important part of the Lantern Festival. This folk custom dates back to ancient times. Basically, people write all kinds of riddles on paper pieces, and then paste them on the colorful red lanterns. The purpose is to let other people guess the answer. If someone has the right answer he can pull the paper to let organizers verify the answer. Gifts are given to the people who got the answers right. Pretty cool right?.
Is possible to see folk dances during this holiday, although i wasn’t able to watch them this time I know the Lion folk dance is a custom during this holiday. This folk dance dates back to the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280). According to ancient custom, the lion is the symbol of strength that protects people, so by performing this dance everyone prays for an auspicious life.
Is great to discover local folklore. Not only adds a lot of flavor and fun to the trip, but also makes your experience unique. If you happen to be in China when this festival arrive definitively check it out.
Next festival dates
Festival happens every-year at the 15th day of the first lunar month, therefore the festival always falls on a different date:
- 2017 February 11.
- 2018 March 2.
- 2019 February 19.
- 2020 February 8.
- 2021 February 26.
More traditional Chinese holidays (Lunar calendar)
- Chinese new year. 1st Day of the 1st month.
- Dragon boat festival. 5th day of the 5th month.
- Mid-autumn festival. 15th day of the 8th month.
Where to stay in Tianjin:
If you need to stay in Tianjin and need English-speaking staff, i can strongly recommend these 3 hotels:
Have you guys visited any interesting folk festivals recently? If so let me know, drop me a line.