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Lantern Festival: A romantic celebration in China

Updated: 2019-02-19 09:12:24

( chinadaily.com.cn )

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The Lantern Festival, a traditional Chinese festival, is celebrated on the 15th day of the first lunar month. It falls on Tuesday this year.

It is a continuation of celebrating the Spring Festival. The day leads to the first full moon night of the year, and is also the night when the earth returns to spring.

During the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24), more than 2,000 years ago, Emperor Wen ordered that the 15th day of the first lunar month to be dedicated to the Lantern Festival.

Stills from Chinese costume drama, Legend of Sword and Fairy. Zi Xuan meets her lover Xu Changqing at the Lantern Festival. [Photo/Mtime]

It was also a romantic festival in ancient China, providing an opportunity for unmarried men and women to meet.

In ancient times, young women, especially daughters of eminent families, hardly stepped out their houses. But during the Lantern Festival, it was a tradition that all people, including those young women, come out for lantern shows.

Watching lanterns at night was just an opportunity for young women to find a man whose appearance appealed to them. Another activity, guessing the answers to lantern riddles, gives young people a chance to interact with each other and know more about each other. For thousands of years, there have been numerous love stories originating during the Lantern Festival.

A poem by Xin Qiji, a poet of the Song Dynasty (AD 420-479) depicts a love story at the lantern festival:

But in the crowd once and again

I look for her in vain.

When all at once I turn my head,

I find her there where lantern light is dimly shed.

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