When is Lantern Festival?
This holiday is celebrated on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month.
The 15th day is the first night after Chinese New year when there is a full moon and marks the culmination of the new year festivities.
According to the Chinese tradition, at the very beginning of a new year, when there is a bright full moon hanging in the sky, there should be thousands of colourful lanterns hung out for people to appreciate.
At this time, people will try to solve the puzzles on the lanterns and eat rice balls and get all their families united in the joyful atmosphere.
This is an ancient tradition and as such there are several different supposed origins of the Lantern Festival.
One legend states that the first lantern festival took place during the Han Dynasty, about two thousand years ago. The legend goes that during the reign of Emperor Wu there was a palace maid named Yuansiao, whose role forbid her from ever seeing her family. This made her very homesick. A minister from the palace took pity on her and came up with a plan to reunite the maid with her parents for one night of the year. He told the emperor that the God of Heaven was displeased and would destroy the city by fire unless lanterns were hung throughout the city on his birthday. On this night, servants and maids were to be permitted to leave the palace to help take part in the ritual, giving Yuansiao and evening a year to be with her family.
It has been celebrated as the birthday of the God of Heaven (Shang Yuan Jie), since the Tang dynasty (AD618-907).
These days, the Lantern Festival is an important occasion for family meetings and reunions. Parks across Taiwan become an amazing sight with numerous huge lanterns depicting anything from the current zodiac animal to scenes from traditional Chinese folk stories and more contemporary scenes. Schoolchildren will also make many more smaller lanterns adding to the spectacle of the evening.