What is the Chinese Lantern Festival?
Also known as the Yuan-Xiao Festival, the Chinese Lantern Festival is traditionally celebrated on the last day of the Chinese New Year. It is always on the 15 day of the first lunar month, although that date varies from year to year, depending on the Chinese calendar. In 2013, the Chinese Lantern Festival will be celebrated later than usual (due to the Leap Year in 2012), putting it on February 24.
Different portions of the Chinese Lantern Festival are significant for different reasons. All are deeply rooted in Chinese history and each links back to the common story that this is the day that the guardian of the gates of heaven blesses human luck. No matter what your culture or background, everyone can use a little boost of luck once in a while and the Chinese Lantern Festival is the perfect time to send those thoughts of luck for the New Year into the universe.
Why you should celebrate
The idea behind the Chinese Lantern Festival is perfect for celebrating with children or as a family! While you're already a couple of months into our traditional New Year, the Chinese New Year has a different meaning and teaching your children about the way another culture celebrates is both special and valuable. Use it as a chance to connect yourselves with families on the other side of the world by bringing their traditions into your home!
Beyond the cultural aspects of celebrating this part of the Chinese New Year, the thoughts behind the Chinese Lantern Festival can be meaningful for families. Each family member, including the kiddos, can decorate lanterns that will decorate the sky for your own, at home festival. Invite friends and family members over to do the same and fill your entire backyard, or even the inside of your home (no flames, please!) with everyone's wishes and lanterns.
Lighting up the sky
To the moon and back
You've likely seen these popular paper lanterns in weddings, where they seem to be the hottest new way to send off the bride and groom. Wish Lanterns, as they're often called, can float up into the night's sky, along with your wishes! These Eco Wish Lanterns (Pack of 10, Wishlantern.com) are biodegradable, so when they do find their way back to earth, they won't harm the environment.
A colorful festival
At less than $10 for a package of 8 lanterns, the Just Artifacts Paper Lanterns (Amazon.com) are the perfect choice for a Chinese Lantern Festival celebration with kids. Open each lantern up and let the kiddos go to town decorating them, then hang them all from a pre-hung string in your home. When you're done, gently compress them again and tuck them away in your children's memory boxes — they'll love seeing what their wishes were in the years to come!
Can't bear to take down your lanterns post-celebration? Choose some that will last all year long. The Soji Solar Lanterns (Allsop Home and Garden) include an LED lamp that is charged by the sun and will give off a perfectly soft glow as soon as evening sets in — the perfect reminder of the wishes you sent into the universe for the Chinese New Year.