How do people celebrate the Chinese Lantern Festival? PDF Print E-mail

 

Lantern23People have various kinds of activities to celebrate this festival.  Here are some widely practised customs:

 

 

Enjoying lanterns: People enjoy lanterns not only for pleasure: Taiwanese, for example, believe that lanterns represent brightness, and lighting lanterns could bring a bright future.  Besides, in some regions such as Taiwan and Anhui, the character 'deng' (lantern) is pronounced similarly to 'ding' (man) in local languages.  Therefore, married women would specially wander underneath the lanterns during the festival, wishing to conceive baby boys from this behaviour.

 

Guessing riddles: Riddles are usually attached on to or hung beneath the lanterns.  Sometimes winners would get prizes.  Due to the difficulty of achieving the correct answers, this activity is also called “tiger-shooting”.

 

Driving away all the diseases: It is believed that by walking along a wall, across a bridge or in the suburb, and touching the doornails in a temple during the Lantern Festival, one could drive away all the diseases and disasters.  Participants are mostly women.  This custom started since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and is still current in many places nowadays, for instance, Foshan, Guangdong.

 

Stealing greens (vegetables): Theft is no doubt a crime, yet stealing greens (vegetables) in the night of the Lantern Festival is tolerated.  It is a popular custom in the South, such as Guangdong, Sichuan and Taiwan.  People believe that stealing different vegetables could bring different good fortune: spring onions stand for intelligence, broad-leaved greens represent a satisfactory husband, lettuce is a good sign for fertility and wealth, etc.  Those "green-thieves" do not care about the owners’ cursing at all, as the more swearwords they receive, the luckier they would be for the whole year!  The origin of this activity remains unclear.