The Lantern Festival (元宵節)

Children playing with colourful lanterns
Children playing with colorful lanterns

 

The 15th day of the first lunar month is celebrated as the Lantern Festival (元宵節). In 2017, it falls on 12 February (Sunday). As early as the Western Han Dynasty around 210 CE, the Lantern Festival had become a significant festival. During the Lantern Festival, people have fun at night carrying paper lanterns and solve riddles on the lanterns (猜燈謎).

In the ancient days, young adults celebrated in the hope of finding loved ones. Matchmakers were busily pairing couples. In more recent times, it is touted as the Chinese Valentine’s Day.

Lanterns are used for decorations and they are always red in colour to symbolize good fortune.  They can also be made in the shape of animals.

The following images show traditional lanterns in different shapes and designs in a long scroll painting circa 1486 CE (明宪宗元宵行樂圖卷).

elephant lantern
elephant lantern

 

crab lantern, rabbit lantern
crab lantern, rabbit lantern

 

toad lantern, figure lantern
figure lantern and toad lantern

 

a traditional lantern
traditional lantern

 

 

People eat sweet glutinous rice balls, yuanxiao (元宵) also known as tāngyuán (湯圓), and enjoy a family reunion.

 

Famous Chinese poems related to the Lantern Festival

朱淑真(一說作者為歐陽修)《生查子》

去年元夜時,花市燈如晝。月上柳梢頭,人約黃昏後。

今年元夜時,月與燈依舊。不見去年人,淚濕春衫袖。

 

辛棄疾青玉案之元夕》

東風夜放花千樹,更吹落、星如雨。寶馬雕車香滿路,鳳簫聲動,玉壺光轉,一夜魚龍舞。

蛾兒雪柳黃金縷,笑語盈盈暗香去。眾裡尋他千百度,驀然回首,那人卻在,燈火闌珊處。

 

唐寅《元宵》

有燈無月不娛人,有月無燈不算春。春到人間人似玉,燈燒月下月如銀。

滿街珠翠遊村女,沸地笙歌賽社神。不展芳尊開口笑,如何消得此良辰。

 

Acknowledgements :

The lanterns images come from 中國國家博物館  館藏文物研究叢書  繪畫卷  風俗畫 (2006)

 

Further readings:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lantern_Festival

http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%85%83%E5%AE%B5%E8%8A%82 (元宵節)

http://baike.baidu.com/view/24718.htm (朱淑真)

http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%BE%9B%E6%A3%84%E7%96%BE (辛棄疾)

http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%94%90%E5%AF%85 (唐寅)

4 thoughts on “The Lantern Festival (元宵節)

  1. Congratulation Sir Patrick

    We’re glad you recognise an insignificant amount of energy can amount to a tremendous success, this incredible principle can be applied in so many ways to the businesses, or whatever goals you have set for yourself in 2015.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 很喜歡唐寅的《元宵》,短短八句,道出元宵的情和景:圓月丶花燈丶才子丶佳人、如此良辰和美景,佳節也。
    元宵節有賞燈和猜燈謎的活動,應景的食品,北方稱作"元宵",南方則叫"湯圓",全是民間知慧,我的至愛。

    廖淑貞

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you very much for all the outstanding information and poems of the Renri and the Lantern Festival. I have not come across these poems until this moment. Thanks for the sharing and the hard work in the webpages.

    The pictures of the food in the website of Renri appear very delicious. The paintings of the images in the webpage of the Lantern Festival are very funny, sorry to offend the artists.

    Happy birthday to everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good morning Patrick

    Another informative reading. All the links are very interesting as well.

    I love Tangyuan and now there is an excuse to indulge myself.

    Have a nice day Dorothy

    On Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 8:55 PM, “Patrick Siu Chinese Calligraphy &

    Liked by 1 person

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