The Lantern Festival, also known as the Yuan Xiao Festival, welcomes the lunar year’s first full moon. It’s a dazzling holiday that wraps up Chinese New Year’s annual Spring Festival with a night of sparkling lights.
Lantern Festival 2021 is February 26, 2021. It takes place every year between February 5 and March 5 on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month.
Here’s a simple guide to the holiday that sends people back to their daily routines fortified by the Spring Festival’s good luck for the year ahead.
The Lantern Festival celebration dates back some 2,000 years to lanterns hung in Buddhist temples by monks during the Han Dynasty. By imperial decree, temples, homes and palaces across China adopted the practice of hanging brightly-lit lanterns on the 15th night of the year’s 1st lunar month. Once the Lantern Festival passes, there’s no need to fear Chinese New Year taboos and it’s appropriate to take down Chinese New Year decorations.
Outside of China, you’re likely to see Lantern Festival celebrations in communities that also commemorate Chinese New Year. It’s common to see street festivals and toned-down versions of the giant outdoor lantern exhibitions found in cities across China. The Chinese words for the lunar year’s first month yuan and night xiao explain the Lantern Festival’s alternate name, the Yuan Xiao Festival.