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Celebrated on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month, the Lantern Festival traditionally marks the end of the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) period. It was held on Friday, February 26, 2021, and will next be held on Tuesday, February 15, 2022.
See the fact file below for more information on the Lantern Festival or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Lantern Festival worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
GENERAL FACTS AND HISTORY
- The festival’s popular Chinese name is 元宵节 Yuánxiāojié /ywen-sshyaoww jyeah/ ‘first night festival’, and some alternatively call it 上元节 Shàngyuánjié /shung-ywen-jyeah/ ‘first first festival’.
- The Lantern Festival is the last day (traditionally) of China’s most important festival where people enjoy watching lanterns, solving lantern riddles, eating tangyuan (ball dumplings in soup), lion dances, dragon dances, etc.
- The general consensus is that the festival began in the Western Han Dynasty. Emperor Wu designated this day for worship rituals for Taiyi, one of the universe’s sovereigns.
- Then, during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE), people crafted lanterns to celebrate the peace and power of China as a country, thus turning it into the Lantern Festival.
- For the citizens of the Song Dynasty (1127-1279 CE), the festival was the most bustling, enjoyable, and romantic holiday. It was cherished and expressed with strong emotion by many poets of the time, and it lasted for five days.
- However, the largest Lantern Festival celebration took place in the early 15th century when the festivities lasted for ten days. The Yongle Emperor (1402-1424 CE) of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 CE) had the downtown area set aside as a center for displaying the lanterns.
- Throughout the dynasty, activities included comedians’ miscellaneous play, juggling, street vendors, lanterns, and firecrackers. Games such as archery, kicking Ju, polo, Chui-Wan, and Touhou were also played.
- As seen in many Chinese paintings, the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912 CE) celebrated the Lantern Festival with scenes of fireworks, Taiping Drums, fruits on sale, a monkey trick show, and performances.
- Lighting and Watching Lanterns – Lanterns of various shapes and sizes are seen everywhere, including households, shopping malls, parks, and streets. Every lantern demonstrates traditional Chinese images and symbols, such as fruits, flowers, birds, animals, people, and buildings.
- Traditionally, Chinese lanterns are red, oval-shaped, and decorated with red and gold tassels. In Chinese culture, red symbolizes warmth, happiness, and good fortune.
- Three types of lanterns include: hanging lanterns – for protection and good luck; flying lanterns – used during the autumn festival; and floating lanterns – also used during the dragon boat festival.
- People pray after lighting the lanterns so that they will have a smooth future, and they express their best wishes for their families. Women walk under a hanging lantern while praying for a child when they want to get pregnant.
- A famous variation of the traditional lantern is the Kongming lantern. Their unique designs represent hope, success, and happiness. In the past, people used these lanterns to signify they were safe after an attack.
- Throughout history, countless variations of lanterns have been created to represent something. They can be as small as snow globes or as large as a parade float.
- Guessing Lantern Riddles – Since the Song Dynasty, lantern owners will write short riddles on the lanterns. If someone knows the answer, they can pull the riddle off and go to the owner to check their answer. If the answer is right, small prizes are given.
- Lion Dance – The beginning of the Lion Dance dates back to the Three Kingdoms Period (220–280 CE) and is usually performed at important events, such as the Lantern Festival.
- The lion symbolizes bravery and strength and is believed to ward off evil and protect people and their livestock.
- Two highly-trained performers are required to dance in a lion suit. One acts as the head and forelegs, and the other is the back and rear legs. The lion dances to the beat of a drum, gong, and cymbals. The dancers jump, roll, and do difficult acts, such as walking on stilts.
- Stilt Dancing – Chinese stilt performances are an ancient act that stemmed from Chinese opera. The performers sing and dance while on stilts.
- Eating Tangyuan or Yuanxiao – These ball-shaped dumplings are made of glutinous rice flour and are stuffed with sweet fillings, such as white sugar, brown sugar, sesame seeds, peanuts, walnuts, rose petals, bean paste, jujube paste, or a combination of these ingredients.
- Chinese people believe that the round shape of the balls and their bowls symbolize wholeness and togetherness. It is one of the ways for them to express best wishes for their family and future lives.
- Tangyuan also represents family reunions because it sounds similar to “reunion” (tuán yuan). Some businessmen also call these balls yuán bǎo, meaning gold or silver ingots.
Lantern Festival Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Lantern Festival across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Lantern Festival worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Lantern Festival which traditionally marks the end of the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) period. It was held on Friday, February 26, 2021, and will next be held on Tuesday, February 15, 2022.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Lantern Festival Facts
- Festival Greetings
- Greeting Card
- Let’s Make a Lantern!
- Lantern Design
- Preparing for the Festival
- Eat Tangyuan!
- Chinese Riddles
- The Story of the Festival
- Lantern Fests around the World
- Lunisolar Math Challenges
Link/cite this page
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Link will appear as Lantern Festival Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, March 29, 2021
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.