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Lunar New Year – The Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival, also called Yuan Xiao Festival. It honors deceased ancestors on the 15th day of the first month (Yuan) of the lunar calendar. The Lantern Festival aims to promote reconciliation, peace, and forgiveness. The holiday marks the first full moon of the new lunar year and the end of the Chinese New Year. During the festival, houses are festooned with colorful lanterns, often with riddles written on them; if the riddle is answered correctly, the solver earns a small gift.

The Lantern Festival may originate as far back as the Han dynasty (206 bce to 220 ce), when Buddhist monks would light lanterns on the 15th day of the lunar year in honor of the Buddha. The rite was later adopted by the general population and spread throughout China and other parts of Asia. A legend concerning the festival’s origin tells the tale of the Jade Emperor (You Di), who became angered at a town for killing his goose. He planned to destroy the town with fire, but he was thwarted by a fairy who advised the people to light lanterns across the town on the appointed day of destruction. The emperor, fooled by all the light, assumed the town was already engulfed in flames. The town was spared, and in gratitude the people continued to commemorate the event annually by carrying colorful lanterns throughout the town.

Festival celebrations also include lion and dragon dances, parades, and fireworks.

Each year for Lunar New Year, in SF the Chinatown area comes to life with Cherry blossoms, and preparations for the upcoming Lunar New Year parade.THIS YEAR: Chinese New Year is on Tuesday, February 5, 2019. It is so much fun to see this parade and very loud too.  I have been able to walk in the parade with my company 3 times, that is thrilling – we were surrounded by thousands of clapping spectators,  stilt walkers, Lions, dragons, high schools, martial artists and local civic groups. — the editor