Spring Lantern Festival

Today, on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, we celebrate Spring Lantern Festival or “Yuan Xiao” (元宵) in Chinese. This marks the first full moon of the new year and is a time to let go of the past year to welcome in the new one. It also marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Chinese Lantern Festival is also known as “Chinese Valentine’s Day”. In addition to enjoying the lanterns, it is also a time for families and friends to spend time together.

Spring Lantern Festival Traditions

Whilst the festival today appears as a blaze of color, lights, and large crowds, behind this there are some strong traditions kept alive. It is believed that the festival originated during the Han Dynasty, around 2000 years ago. At this time the emperor would decorate his palace with lanterns and invite people to view these to celebrate the new year.

Over time, the tradition spread to the wealthy, and eventually, to everyone! Along with this, decorations and celebrations became increasingly elaborate. For a long time, there has been a lovely tradition of riddle solving involved, where the young would try and solve amusing riddles tied to the lanterns. You can still see this happening – if you know what to look for!

No celebration is complete in Chinese culture without food. Today we eat glutinous rice dumplings or “tang yuan” (湯圓). They are sticky rice balls with sweet fillings. Make sure to try a few different flavors, such as sesame or peanut. You may find other more creative variety as well!

Where to celebrate Lantern Festival in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a great place to be when it comes to festival time. To celebrate the Lantern Festival, the city has been decorated with spectacular displays of many colorful lanterns. The main exhibition of lanterns is by the waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui, centered on the plaza near the Hong Kong Cultural Center. Every evening from January 20th to February 19th, lanterns are lit up from 6 pm to 11 pm, attracting many who want to capture beautiful shots! Lanterns take on all sorts of different styles here, some can be quite innovative. This year’s theme is “Blooming Love of the Phoenixes”, featuring two beautiful phoenixes lurking high up in the sky.

Join in on the Lunar New Year Lantern Carnival 2017 tonight from 7:30 to 10 pm. In addition to the gorgeous lantern display, the carnival also showcases traditional arts, folk music and ethnic dance. Don’t miss the demonstration of lantern making or other crafts such as brush calligraphy and mahjong tile engraving. Also participate in the quiz on traditional of lantern riddles. For more details, visit here.

If you are in the New Territories, you can also check out the lantern display and carnival at Sha Tsui Road Playground in Tseun Wan or North District Park.

Lunar New Year Lantern Carnival Details

Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza: http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/en/eo/common/doc/2017/01/2017_ULNYLC_Leaflet.pdf

Sha Tsui Road Playground in Tseun Wan: http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/en/eo/common/doc/2017/01/2017_NTWLNYLC_Leaflet.pdf

North District Park: http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/en/eo/common/doc/2017/01/2017_NTELNYLC_Leaflet.pdf