The Lantern Festival is one of the traditional Chinese festivals, also known as the Shangyuan Festival, the Small First Month of the Lunar New Year, the Yuanxi, or Light Festival. Every year, it is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month of the lunar new year.
Zhengyue is the first month of the lunar new year. The ancient people called night “Xiao”. The fifteenth day of the lunar new year is the first day of the year with a full moon, therefore, this day is called the Lantern Festival. According to the Taoism theory of Sanyuan, the fifteenth day of the first month of the lunar new year is also called Shangyuan Festival. Since ancient times, the customs of the Lantern Festival is to appreciate lanterns in a festive atmosphere.
The forming of the Lantern Festival was a long process, originating from the ancient custom of lighting lanterns to pray for good luck. According to general materials and folk legends, the fifteenth day of the first month of the lunar new year was already valued in Western Han Dynasty. But it was after Han and Wei Dynasties that the Lantern Festival became a nationally celebrated festival. The beginning of the custom of lighting lanterns on the fifteenth day of the first month of the lunar new year had to do with the eastward spreading of Buddhism. In Tang Dynasty, Buddhism gained great popularity, the officials and ordinary people all lighted lanterns to pay tribute to the Buddha on the fifteenth day of the first month of the lunar new year, thus lights for the Buddha were everywhere. Since Tang Dynasty, lighting lanterns on festival day was written into law.
Lantern Festival is one of the traditional Chinese festivals. At the Lantern Festival, a series of traditional folk custom activities are carried out, including appreciating lanterns, eating Tangyuan (glutinous rice balls for Lantern Festival), lantern puzzle guessing, and fireworks. In addition, in many places, at the Lantern Festival, there are traditional folk performances, such as dragon lantern dance, lion dance, walking on stilts, land boat dance, yang ko dance, and beating drums while dancing. In June 2008, Lantern Festival was listed as the second batch of State-level Intangible Cultural Heritage.