Twinkling lights and blossoming romance, The Lantern Festival is all set to light up the Year of Rat in 2020. Marking the end of the Chinese New year festivities, every 15th day of the start of the Chinese lunar calendar celebrates the festival.
If you are planning to visit this lit extravaganza, then check out our list of all the things you should know before heading there.
What You Need To Know Before Heading To The Chinese Lantern Festival?
The celebrations date back to 2000 years in history. The tradition of the festival is said to have started by the Western Han Dynasty. To celebrate the return of peace and to welcome the blossoming season of spring, Emperor Wen designated this day as the day for harmony to be represented by lighting lanterns in every corner of the kingdom. Where as, Emperor Ming of the Eastern Han dynasty was devout to Buddha. He marked the 15th of the calendar to pay honours to the lord by lighting up his kingdom with candles and lanterns.
Today this day is celebrated across the country as the Lantern Festival.
It is known as the Chinese Valentine’s day.
In the olden days, the Chinese women were not allowed to step out in fear of the evil eye. They often stayed inside the house. However, on the day of the lantern festival, they stepped out in their colourfully flowing Hanfu (the traditional costume of the olden Chinese Han dynasty). The day symbolised their freedom and allowed them to socialise freely with men. Many romances in its ancient literature revolve around the festival.
When does it happen?
In 2020, the festival falls on Saturday, February 8. However, you can enjoy the glittering lights of the lanterns across the Chinese towns till the end of February month.
Three leading Chinese Lantern Festivals happen across the country
Although the entire kingdom is usually lit up with lights, candles and lanterns, some specific exhibitions and fairs catch the eyes of people worldwide. One of the essential things to know before you head to see the festival is knowing where you can get a glimpse of the most colourful lanterns and flamboyant of performances.
Qinhuai International Lantern festival is said to be the biggest in China. It is estimated to happen from January 25 to February 11, 2020, at Confucius temple, Qinhuai Scenic Zone, Nanjing.
Shanghai Yuyuan lantern festival is going to take place from the end of January to the end of February at Yuyuan garden in Shanghai.
Guangzhou Yuexiu Park Lantern Fair is going to take place from January 22 to January 24 at Yuexiu Park in Guangzhou.
Difficulty in booking the flight tickets
The Lantern Festival 2020 falls on a Saturday and is not provided as a public holiday by the government. However, you may want to book your tickets much in advance if you are going to head for the celebrations. There would be many travelling across to meet their families during the season.
Lighting and watching lanterns
The best of the festival is lighting up colourful lanterns to hang. The most popular of these lanterns are the traditional Kongming lanterns (sky lantern). If you have ever seen the pictures from Disney’s Tangled, then you know what we are talking saying. The collaborative of these floating lanterns will leave your eyes glistening at their spotted brightness across the sky. These lamps are supposed to carry people’s wishes to heaven. Furthermore, there are also traditional red, orange and yellow lanterns that hang across streets. In recent years, there have been several colourful human-sized parade lanterns in the symbolic shapes of lotuses, dragons and many more.
Writing witty riddles on the lanterns
Writing and guessing amusing riddles from the hanging lanterns is one of the most loved fun activities associated with the festival. Be sure to be a part of it while you are there. A magical way to pass on your message to your loved one, isn’t it? The trick is to write a message that is entirely out of the box.
Witness the Dragon Dance
A dragon is the most important symbol when we talk about China and the lantern festival 2020 is no different. The flow of the vibrantly coloured fabric dragon flows through the air as the performers run with it with the beat of the drums. The dragon is said to be symbolic of good fortune. To add on, the details of the dragon scales along with the seamless floating, is astounding.
The traditional lion dance
The dancing red fabric skin with fringes of yellow are stark against the sky. Lion dances are very commonly associated with every Chinese festival, and the lantern festival is no different. Two performers carry the body of the lion; one bears the humongous head and the other, the tail. Sometimes the lion can catch you by surprise y moving its eyes and opening its mouth to ask for food.
Making and eating Yuan Xiao
Food is an integral part of any festival. The most popular dessert to be made on this day are the Yuan Xiao. The making of it is typically a family tradition. Glutinous rice flour with a sweet filling of red bean paste, peanuts, jujube paste and more. They are often boiled and served with tianjiu, a soup made out of fermented rice.
Now that you have the deeds get packing and be out to China with your passports for the experience this surreal cultural fest.
Until then, Yuan Xiao Jie ( Happy Lantern Festival)