The Chinese New Year is a time for merriment, spreading good cheer and lighting up lives with smiles and joyful moments. People celebrating this festival indulge in a lot of activities to usher in a brand new year.
Crafting beautiful lanterns is also one of the most important parts of the Chinese New Year celebrations. People around the world engage in making wonderful lanterns as the festivities culminate with the Lantern festival. It is an amazing spectacle to witness colorful, bright lanterns adorning every house.
The tradition of ending the Chinese New year celebrations with the Lantern festival also dates back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC- 221 AD). It is generally celebrated on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar. Observing this festival signifies the end of the New Year festivities.
People put in a lot of effort, time and energy to make innovative and vibrant lanterns that can be displayed at the lantern festival. The festive mood is palpable during the day as people come out with their bright-lit lanterns of varying shapes, sizes and also colors. It is much like the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival in Taiwan. The entrance of houses looks more magnificent as the lanterns of different colors and sizes light up the outside of the homes and enhance the beauty of the place. Some lanterns are made in the form of animals, flowers, insects, famous people or even machines or buildings. People also take inspiration from stories and craft their lanterns to depict the moral of popular tales that convey integrity and traditional values.
A lot of people learn the craft of making lanterns before the arrival of the festival and try to get essential supplies to make a beautiful one in shortest span of time possible.
Making a Lantern
Colored paper, scissors, glue or tape are some of the most basic things that can be used to make a beautiful Chinese New Year lantern. The first step towards making a lantern is to fold a rectangular piece of paper in half and then making a series of cuts along the fold line. Remember not to cut the edges of the paper. Open up the folded paper and apply glue or staple the edges of the paper together. The end of the lantern can be decorated with a strip of paper cut out and stuck to it with glue or stapled to it. This can act as the handle of the lantern.
For those who do not wish to make the lanterns at home can also buy them. Shops during the Chinese New Year festival are filled with colorful lanterns of varying designs and sizes. You can get it from shops outside and customize it by writing down your wishes on the lantern. Choose the color of the lantern as per the meaning they carry. According to a popular belief, picking up a red color lantern is believed to bring good fortune throughout the year and ward off the evil. Lovers can gift pink lanterns to their partners as pink is considered a sign of romance.
Famous Chinese Lantern
Among most lanterns, the one most talked about in the history is the Chinese lantern depicting the dragon boat racing. It is said to have originated in China more than 2,000 years ago. It shows three people rowing a boat. As per legendary tales, a Chinese belief that celestial spirits can be seen flying in the sky on the first full moon of the lunar calendar is said to have given birth to the festivities and holidays marking the lantern festival. The tales state that people used the torches to search for their spirits to help them locate the spirits in the light. These torches gave way to lanterns of varying size, colors and shapes.
In ancient days, the Lantern festival was also popularly referred to as the Chinese Valentine’s Day. It was believed that the day marking the end of the festivities of Chinese New Year was also a day when girls and boys secretly went out together in the evening. Hence, the festival was considered to be the day of romance for most young lovers.
Popular Lantern Festival Tradition
One of the significant traditions observed as a part of the lantern festival is solving the riddle that is attached to the lanterns. The game of guessing is a good lot of fun. In the old days, lesser-known literary references to the Chinese classics were used to play the riddle game. It was mostly observed by the educated classes. Today, several competitions are held to pick out the best lanterns.
Today, Chinese New Year Lanterns are lighted up in most homes celebrating the significant lunar festival, across China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.
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