Reveal the history of Yuan Xiao Festival (Lantern Fest)

How is the Yuan Xiao Festival or Lantern Festival important to Chinese people? Today, ACU PAY will introduce you to the Yuan Xiao Festival or Lantern Festival. Let’s see what are the activities and food eaten on Yuan Xiao Day.


Yuan Xiao Festival (元宵节) or Chinese Lantern Festival has the history back for 2,000 years ago. This day is considered the end of the Lunar New Year celebration. Normally, this festival falls on 15 of the lunar calendar month (正月十五日). It is one of the oldest festivals and the festival after Lunar New Year. It is said that this festival started in the Han Dynasty (汉朝).

It started when the military leader made offerings to the moon and prayed for peace. As time passed by, it became a celebration for harmony, community, and the beginning of spring. This festival celebrate by eating Glutinous Rice Balls or Tang Yuan (汤圆), solving the lantern puzzle(猜灯谜), Dragon dance and Lion Dance, and lighting the lantern. This is a day off according to the China’ important festivals and is celebrated all over the world by Chinese people communities.

Yuan Xiao Festival Activities

From past to present, there are a lot of activities in this festival but the main activity is decorating houses and roads with red lanterns. Each house will create lanterns in various shapes and use them to decorate their house for propitiousness according to beliefs. Another main activity is solving puzzles in the lanterns (猜灯谜). In ancient times, every family would bring their children out to watch the red lanterns decorated along the street while adolescents would play charades. The Yuan Xiao Festival is considered as a festival for lovers because girls kept themselves in their houses and did not go out to join any activities outside their houses. However, girls would join in this festival to watch the red lanterns and solve puzzles, making a chance for girls and boys to find and choose their future spouses. Nevertheless, there are a few areas that still have solving lantern puzzles activity such as in Yunnan and Sichuan.

Eating Tang Yuan or Glutinous Rice Balls (Bua Loi)

Another thing that cannot miss in this festival is eating Tang Yuan (汤圆) or Glutinous Rice Balls, but Tang Yuan isn’t Glutinous Rice Balls that people are familiar with. It is made from rice flour and stuffed with a sweet and salty filling, molding them into little round pieces then boiling or frying them. The early days, chinese people called this dessert Fu Yuan Zi (浮圆子). Later, it was called Tang Tuan (汤团) or Tang Yuan (汤圆). The words Tuan (团) and Yuan (圆) are similar in pronunciation. It also has a good meaning and is auspicious. Tang Tuan or Tang Yuan is the representative of TuanTuanYuanYuan (团团圆圆) which means family all together. It also means Yuan Man (圆满) which refers to comfortable. Therefore, Tang Yuan (汤圆) became the most important dessert of the year that every Chinese family need to eat on this day. 

In this regard, since people eat Glutinous Rice Balls on the Yuan Xiao night, Glutinous Rice Balls are called Yuan Xiao as well in the present time. So the word Yuan Xiao developed into two meanings, one is the name of the festival, and two means Bua Loi.

Currently, Yuan Xiao contains dozens of kinds of fillings such as Chinese hawthorn, monkey apple, red bean, fruits & nuts, sesame, butter, and Chocolate. The taste of Yuan Xiao in different areas varies. In addition to watching lanterns and eating Yuan Xiao, the Yuan Xiao Festival also has many activities such as gao qiao, fan dance, and lion dance, etc.

Releasing floating lanterns

During the Yuan Xiao festival, it symbolized the release of worries, problems, and badness in recent years. It is believed that releasing floating lanterns can start a good new year and have a bright future ahead. Lighting and watching the lanterns are also symbols of hope, optimism, and wishing good luck next year. The lanterns themselves are often adorned with prayers and goodwill.

Releasing lanterns into the sky was a way of sending prayers to ancestors and gods for protection and blessing. Overall, the Yuan Xiao Festival is an important part of the celebration and has great cultural and spiritual significance.

Solving the lantern puzzle

It is an important cultural tradition that has important symbolic meaning. It is believed to bring good luck and wisdom. The puzzles often written on lanterns range from simple puzzles to more sophisticated brain development toys, and people of all ages can enjoy them. Solving these charades is seen as a way to train the mind and promote mental agility.

In addition, solving lantern puzzles is also a way to connect and promote family and community coexistence. Solving the riddle is seen as promoting unity and cooperation. 

Overall, solving the lantern puzzle during the Yuan Xiao Festival is an important cultural tradition. It is to train the mind, promote unity, and wish good luck and wisdom next year.

What’s your opinion about the Yuan Xiao Festival that ACU PAY brings for you? As you know, the Yuan Xiao Festival is important to Chinese people and some traditions date from the past to the present. Besides eating auspicious desserts, there are also activities to strengthen unity. It is a good festival. The Yuan Xiao Festival is approaching, and ACU PAY wishes you all the best in Yuan Xiao Festival.

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