1Lantern Festival falls on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. This is the first full moon of the new year, symbolizing unity and perfection. Lantern Festival is an important part of Spring Festival , and marks the official end of the long holiday. The Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month, usually in February or March in the Gregorian calendar. As early as the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 25), it had become a festival with great significance.
There are many legends concerning the origins of Lantern Festival.
2According to one legend, once in ancient times, a celestial swan came into the mortal world where it was shot down by a hunter. The Jade Emperor, the highest god in Heaven, vowed to avenge the swan. He started making plans to send a troop of celestial soldiers and generals to Earth on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, with orders to incinerate all humans and animals. But the other celestial beings disagreed with this course of action, and risked their lives to warn the people of Earth. As a result, before and after the fifteenth day of the first month, every family hung red lanterns outside their doors and set off firecrackers and fireworks, giving the impression that their homes were already burning. By successfully tricking the Jade Emperor in this way, humanity was saved from extermination.
3According to another legend, during the time of Emperor Han Wudi of the Han Dynasty , a palace woman named Yuanxiao was prevented from carrying out her filial duty of visiting her parents on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. Distraught, she said she would kill herself by jumping into a well. In order to help Yuanxiao fulfill her duty as a filial daughter, the scholar Dongfang Shuo came up with a scheme. He told Emperor Han Wudi that the Jade Emperor, the highest god in Heaven, had ordered the Fire God
to burn down the capital city of Chang'an on the sixteenth day of the first lunar month. Anxious to find a way to save his city, the emperor asked Dongfang Shuo what he should do. Dongfang Shuo replied that the Fire God loved red lanterns more than anything. He advised that the streets be hung with red lanterns, and the emperor, empress, concubines, and court officials come out of the palace to see them. In this way, the Fire God would be distracted and disaster averted. The emperor followed Dongfang Shuo's advice, and while everyone was out viewing the lanterns, Yuanxiao was able to sneak out of the palace and be reunited with her parents.
4Although the above stories are quite fantastical, it is sure that the origins of Lantern Festival are related to ancient humanity's use of fire to celebrate festivals and avert disaster. Since Lantern Festival involves making offerings to the deities and is celebrated at night, it is natural that fire would play an important role. Over time, Lantern Festival gradually evolved into its present form. When Buddhism was introduced to China during the Eastern Han Dynasty , the emperor decreed that on the night of the full moon of the first lunar month, lanterns should be lit to honor Buddha, adding yet another level of significance to Lantern Festival. And according to Daoism, Lantern Festival is associated with the primordial deities of Heaven and Fire, who were born on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month.
5 This day's important activity is watching lanterns. Throughout the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), Buddhism flourished in China. One emperor heard that Buddhist monks would watch sarira, or remains from the cremation of Buddha's body, and light lanterns to worship Buddha on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month, so he ordered to light lanterns in
the imperial palace and temples to show respect to Buddha on this day. Later, the Buddhist rite developed into a grand festival among common people and its influence expanded from the Central Plains to the whole of China. 元宵主要的活动就是看灯。东汉明帝时期，明帝提倡佛教，听说佛教有正月十五日僧人观佛舍利，点灯敬佛的做法，就命令这一天夜晚在皇宫和寺庙里点灯敬佛，令士族庶民都挂灯。以后这种佛教礼仪节日逐渐形成民间盛大的节日。该节经历了由宫廷到民间，由中原到全国的发展过程。
Till today, the lantern festival is still held each year around the country. Lanterns of various shapes and sizes are hung in the streets, attracting countless visitors. Children will hold self-made or bought lanterns to stroll with on the streets, extremely excited. "Guessing lantern riddles"is an essential part of the Festival. 直到今天，元宵点灯的习俗仍然在中国的各地流传的，各式各样美丽的花灯在这一天都会点亮，孩子们提着自制的灯笼走街串巷，非常高兴。
6 Lantern owners write riddles on a piece of paper and post them on the lanterns. If visitors have solutions to the riddles, they can pull the paper out and go to the lantern owners to check their answer. If they are right, they will get a little gift. The activity emerged during people's enjoyment of lanterns in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). As riddle guessing is interesting and full of wisdom, it has become popular among all social strata. 猜灯谜也是元宵节的一项重要活动，花灯的主人会将谜面写在灯笼上，挂在门口，如果有人可以猜中，就能得到小小的礼物。这项活动最早起源于宋朝，因为谜语能启迪智慧又饶有兴趣，所以流传过程中深受社会各阶层的欢迎。
People will eat yuanxiao, or rice dumplings, on this day, so it is also called the "Yuanxiao Festival."Yuanxiao also has another name, tangyuan. It is small dumpling balls made of glutinous rice flour with rose petals, sesame, bean paste, jujube paste, walnut meat, dried fruit, sugar and edible oil as filling. Tangyuan can be boiled, fried or steamed. It tastes sweet and delicious. What’s more, tangyuan in Chinese has a similar pronunciation with "tuanyuan”, meaning reunion. So people eat them to denote union, harmony and happiness for the family. 民间过元宵节吃元宵的习俗。元宵由糯米制成，或实心，或带馅。馅有豆沙、白糖、山楂、各类果料等，食用时煮、煎、蒸、炸皆可。起初，人们把这种食物叫“浮圆子”，后来又叫“汤团”或“汤圆”，这些名称“团圆”字音相近，取团圆之意，象征全家人团团圆圆，和睦幸福，人们也以此怀念离别的亲人,寄托了对未来生活的美好愿望。
1 In the daytime of the Festival, performances such as a dragon lantern dance, a lion dance, a land boat dance, a yangge dance, walking on stilts and beating drums while
dancing will be staged. On the night, except for magnificent lanterns, fireworks form a beautiful scene. Most families spare some fireworks from the Spring Festival and let them off in the Lantern Festival. Some local governments will even organize a fireworks party. On the night when the first full moon enters the New Year, people become really intoxicated by the imposing fireworks and bright moon in the sky.元宵节