On the 15th day of the first lunar month, two weeks after the Chinese New Year, another important traditional Chinese festival, the Chinese Lantern Festival, is celebrated. It marks the first full moon of the new lunar year and the end of the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) period.
The festival is also known as the true Chinese "Valentine's Day".
This year, the Chinese Lantern Festival 2023 will be celebrated on February 5th, 2023.
On the night of the Chinese Lantern Festival, the streets are decorated with colorful lanterns, often with riddles written on them. People eat sweet rice balls called tangyuan, watch dragon and lion dances, and set off fireworks.
Chinese New year, also called Spring Festival in China, marks the beginning of the Spring season. The Chinese Lantern Festival marks the final day of these celebrations. After the Lantern Festival, Chinese New Year taboos are no longer in effect, and all New Year decorations are taken down. Some people still wait till after the festival to return to work or study.
The lanterns symbolize people letting go of the past year and welcoming the new year with good fortune.
The origin of the festival dates back to Western Han Dynasty (206 BCE–25 CE), a time when Buddhism was growing in China. In the early days, young people were chaperoned in the streets in hopes of finding love. Matchmakers used to pair couples.
On this day, eating tangyuan is considered auspicious as it may bring the family harmony, happiness and luck in the new year. It is a glutinous rice ball that is prepared by typically filling it with sweet red bean paste, sesame paste, or peanut butter. It is believed that the round shape of the balls and the bowls in which they are served symbolize family togetherness.
The Real Chinese Valentine's Day
China's Lantern Festival is one of the romantic traditional Chinese festivals. In ancient times, unmarried women were not allowed to go out of the house. The Chinese Lantern Festival provided an opportunity for them to stroll freely, lighting lanterns, playing games, and interacting with men. This is why some say that the Chinese Lantern Festival is the true Chinese "Valentine's Day".
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