Lantern Festival: Another Valentine’s Day in February

27 Mar

The Lantern Festival, which is also known as Yuanxiao Festival or Shangyuan Festival, is on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunisolar year in the lunar calendar, the last day of the lunisolar Lunar New Year celebration. (Feb. 24 this year)

Since the day is the first night that one can see a full moon during the year, people go out to appreciate thousands of colorful lanterns hung in front of doors or on the streets, solve puzzles on lanterns, eat glutinous rice balls (yuanxiao), and enjoy the family reunion.

Besides the reunion meaning, the Lantern Festival has another meaning in ancient China: Valentine’s Day. Since women usually stayed at home in ancient times, the Lantern Festival was their uncommon chance to go out and know more people. A lot of romantic and beautiful love stories happened during that day. So it was known as the Valentine’s Day in ancient China.

Therefore, you can enjoy two Valentine’s Days in this February.


Yuanxiao, Lantern and Love Stories


How does the Lantern (Yuanxiao) Festival come?


Appreciate Lanterns

An important acticity during the Lantern Festival night is to appreciate the lanterns. There were thousands of colorful manual lanterns on the streets. People brought their most beautiful lanterns with them and accepted the praise. I was born in rabbit year, so my father made me a rabbit lantern. It was pretty beautiful in my memory. Since the electronic lights were not that popular in those years, we put candles in the middle of the lantern. An annual job for my father was to repair the lantern because I would accidently burned a small part of the lantern almost every year. However, it is still one episode of the most amazing memories during my life.



As time went by, the manual lanterns became less seen on streets. People just bought electronic lanterns for their children and went out to watch the large scale of electronic lanterns usually organized by local governments. Although the lanterns are much lighter and more beautiful, I still miss the time I pulled my rabbit lantern with a candle in it.

Lanterns in Modern Chinese Lantern Festival


2 Responses to “Lantern Festival: Another Valentine’s Day in February”

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