The First Full Moon Festival falls on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month and it is also called Lantern Festival. Lantern Festival is a traditional festival in Chinese Han and some fraternal nationalities and it is also one of the traditional festivals for Chinese cultural circle of regional and overseas Chinese. Han Chinese traditional Lantern Festival began in the Qin Dynasty, about 2,000 years ago. The Emperor Wen of the West Han Dynasty ordered to set the fifteenth day of the first lunar month as the Lantern Festival. Eat Yuanxiao, enjoy beautiful lanterns and guess riddles are several important folk customs in Lantern Festival. Celebrate the Lantern Festival is also a traditional folk custom in Chinese culture.


The Origin of Lantern Festival

The First Moon Festival means the festival is celebrated in the night. As the main activities on the First Moon Festival was eat Yuanxiao and enjoy lanterns, the festival is also called Lantern Festival. The Lantern Festival pushes the celebration activities which begin from the Spring Festival to a new climax. In the night of Lantern Festival, streets and alleys are decorated with lanterns and streamers; people enjoy beautiful lanterns, eat Yuanxiao and guess riddles which had become a custom followed by descendants.

According to the legend, the Lantern Festival was set to commemorate quell the chaos caused by Queen Lu. After the death of the first emperor of Han Dynasty, the son of Queen Lu, Liu Ying succeeded to the throne. As Liu Ying was soft and tender-hearted by nature, Queen Lu was gradually in power. In this way, the Han Government which used to be the private property of Liu family had become the private property of Lu family. However, Queen Lu was ferocious and violent, the officials and Liu family was in silent resentment.
After the death of Queen Lu, the Lu family was anxious and fearful. They gathered at the home of Lu Lu who was a general in Han Dynasty. They conspired to seize the state power so that they wouldn’t be expelled by Liu family. However, the news was heard by Liu family and they made a prompt decision to quell the chaos. After the chaos, the second son of Liu bang succeeded to the throne and the new emperor was Emperor Wen of Han. He knew that the peaceful life was not easy to get and maintain, so he set the fifteenth day of the first lunar month on which day the chaos caused by Lu family was quelled as the Lantern Festival. On Lantern festival, the emperor would celebrate the festival with common people. Since then, the Lantern Festival became a folk custom.

Conventions for Different Nationalities

★The Han Nationality Folk

Decorate with Lanterns and Streamers
Since the formation of lanterns vulgar, it has become a big event foe successive dynasties. In the period of Emperor Yang of Sui, a grand celebration ceremony would be held on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month every year. According to records, the Lantern Festival celebrations were very grand and decorated everywhere. Dance and music were played day and night and the performers reached more than three thousand. The number of music player was up to eighteen thousand people. People enjoy the beautiful lanterns and lively performance all through the night. In Tang Dynasty, the festival had developed a lantern market which became a carnival for the whole people.

Guess Lantern Riddles
The lantern riddles was developed from riddles which was began from the Warring States. It is a kind of game full of suggestion, humor, tease and advice. The riddles were written on the lanterns for people to guess and the custom began from the Southern Song Dynasty. Because riddle is interesting and full of wisdom, so the process are welcome to spread by all sectors of the community.
Dragon-lantern Show
Playing the dragon lantern, also known as dragon lantern dance or dragon dance. Its origins can be traced back to ancient times. According to legend, as early as the Yellow Emperor period, in a "clearance angle" big dance, and it appeared the image of the person playing the leading body of the dragon. Chinese people advocate dragon and the dragon was looked as a symbol of good luck.
Eat Yuanxiao
"Yuanxiao" has a long history as the food in China. Yuanxiao approach is based on stuffing. The general process is first mixed with fillings, and later spread evenly into big round slices, let cool and then cut into small cubes. Then stuffing pieces into the machine like a large sieve-like, down the river rice, "sieve" up. With fillings become spherical in each collision, the glutinous rice is also formed on the surface stained fillings Yuanxiao.

★The Minority Folk

Some minorities also celebrate the Lantern Festival the same with Han nationality. They are Manchu, Korean, Hoche, Mongolian, Daur, Evenki, Oroqen, Bai, Xibe, Tibetan, Naxi, Yao, She, Buyi, Zhuang, Li and Gelao etc.
Man nationality
Like the Han nationality, Manchu also has the custom of hanging lanterns and eat Yuanxiao on Lantern Festival.
Bai nationality
Dali Bai nationality special attention for the Lantern Festival. The Bai people not only paly the dragon dance, they also organize chorus to sing for the festival.