* 2016 Festival Has Been Postponed Until A Later Date

The Chinese lantern festival today is reserved mostly for people having fun, and getting together with family or friends. It marks the last day of the lunar New Year celebration. During this night, people of all ages would carry around beautifully lit lanterns and enjoy traditional activities under the full moon. These activities consist of solving Chinese riddles displayed on the lanterns, playing with fireworks, and watching popular performances like the dragon and lion dances.

In these current and modern days, lanterns have adopted various styles of designs and colors in order to display more appealing cultural demonstrations. Animals have become a common theme for lanterns especially the ones of the year’s current zodiac animal. Gods and goddesses are other popular elegant pieces of lanterns that really portray the cultural aspect of this celebration.

Traditional lanterns are often made with bamboo and paper. However, the larger lanterns have shifted to using metal and silk. They have the ability to range in different sizes as well as shapes.

With a plan, Mr. Eastern disguised himself as a fortuneteller in the middle of the street which attracted many people wanting to learn about their fortune. The deceiving advisor told each and every person that they were going to experience a tragic accident involving fire on the 15th lunar day. They all believed him and pleaded for his advice to avoid this disastrous outcome.

The phony verdict wrote “Capital city is in trouble, fire burns on the Palace, heaven fire burns all night long on the 15th.”

When the emperor of the Han Dynasty saw this horrific threat, he ran to the advisor for help in which Mr. Eastern replied “I heard that the God of Fire likes to tastes Tang-Yuan (Chinese Desert). Does Yuan-Xian often cook Tang-Yuan for you? On the 15th lunar day, let Yuan-Xian make Tang-Yuan. Your Majesty takes charge of the worship ceremony and gives the imperial order to every house to prepare Tan-Yuan to worship the God of Fire at the same time on this day. Also, the Emperor delivered another order to ask every house in the city to hang a red lantern and explode fireworks. As well, he decreed that everyone in the Palace and people outside the city to carry their lanterns on the street, and to watch the lantern decorations and fireworks. Doing these things, the Jade Emperor wouldn’t be deceived at Heaven. Then everyone can avoid the fire.” Desperate and afraid, the Emperor willingly agreed to his adviser’s plan.

On the night of the 15th lunar day, the capital city was flooded with lanterns and people setting off fireworks and making noise. It resembled the city on fire. Yuan-Xian’s parents had joined the palace to watch the lanterns and firework celebration. They noticed a lantern that Yuan-Xian had written her name on and they called out for her. Her parents were able to rejoice in the Palace alongside their daughter and this finally brought the joy and warmth to her heart knowing everyone was safe and happy.

After seeing the beautifully lit lanterns glimmering in the night, the Emperor announced that this event will become an annual holiday celebration. Also, he called the day Yuan-Xian festival because the young maid cooked the best Tan-Yuan.

the lanterns

The Legend Behind the Lantern Festival 

During the time of the Han Dynasty, the emperor favored an adviser named Mr. Eastern. On a cold winter day in the garden, the adviser witnessed a young maid named Yuan-Xian, crying as she stared down a well the she was about to jump in to end her own life. When Mr. Eastern asked her why she was doing this to herself, she told him that working in the palace has made her miss her family so much and that she didn’t feel a need to stay living the life of a maid. With this, the adviser promised the maid that she will soon be reunited with her family and that her life will be saved.