ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Chinese Lantern Festival

Updated on July 29, 2017

The Chinese Lantern festival falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month, a full moon, and concludes the Chinese New Year festivities. For 2010 that will be February 28.

Like the name Lantern Festival implies the main attraction is the making and hanging of lanterns. From the traditional red Chinese lanterns to decorative pieces coming in all shapes and sizes, the lanterns can represent traditions, stories, the Chinese zodiac and much more. Often times riddles are placed on a lantern for people to solve. Firecrackers and lantern parades are common as are performers on stilts and traditional festival dances like the Lion Dance. Traditionally the Lantern Festival also served as a day of love and matchmaking as it was one of the few days where young people, especially women could be out without a curfew.

Chinese Lanterns

String of Chinese Lanterns
String of Chinese Lanterns

Chinese Lantern Festival Lantern Book & Recipe

Chinese Lantern Festival Origins

The legends on the origin of the Lantern Festival are many and here are a few of them. The first says that the Taoist god Tianguan, who represents good fortune, loved celebrations. As his birthday fell on the 15th of the first lunar moon the people held games and activities while praying for good fortune.

Another story states that the Lantern Festival was for the worship of the ancient god of Heaven, Taiyi. Holder of the world's destiny and said to control sixteen dragons he could bring forth pestilence and famine at will. Emperor Qin Shi Huang who united China therefore held an elaborate ceremony for him, praying for good weather and health. Future emperors continued the tradition.

A different legend tells the tale of how in ancient times, villagers killed a beautiful bird favored by the Jade Emperor in Heaven. Other stories have it as a goose or swan. Angered, the Jade Emperor was going to destroy the village in a fire storm. That is until the Emperor's daughter came down from Heaven and warned the people who quickly set off fireworks, hung up lanterns and lit bonfires to make it appear that the village was already burning. The Emperor's troops upon seeing the fire returned to the Jade Emperor and reported the village had been destroyed. Since then, the Lantern Festival has been held in celebration.

Another take on the origin involves a palace maid in the Emperor's service during the Han dynasty named Yuanxiao. She missed her family and wanted to see them but could not as she worked in the palace. A minister who felt sympathy for her came up with a ruse to let her wish be granted. Approaching the Emperor, he told him how the Jade Emperor was sending the god of Fire to burn the city on the 15th of the first lunar moon. As the Jade Emperor loved fire, he advised that they set off firecracker and hang red lanterns throughout the city while everyone comes out to the streets and watch. Furthermore he said the god of Fire loves Yuanxiao's dumplings and that if she presented them to him, then the god would be appeased. The Emperor followed his advice and the city lit lanterns and made it appear as if it were burning. Under the noise of firecrackers and lanterns, Yuanxiao managed to return home and see her family. As nothing happened that night, the Emperor continued this ritual every year.

Yuan Xiao Dumplings

Filled Yuan Xiao Dumpling
Filled Yuan Xiao Dumpling
Floating Tang Yuan means they should be done.
Floating Tang Yuan means they should be done.

Yuan Xiao Dumpling Recipe

The traditional food for the Lantern Festival is a glutinous rice flour dumpling commonly called the Yuan Xiao or Tang Yuan and symbolizes family unity. A simple dish, it can be made sweet or savory, filled or unfilled. Common sweet fillings are red bean paste, black sesame paste or crushed peanuts and sugar while savory Yuan Xiao tends to involve mixed meats, vegetables or mushrooms. The recipes can be adjusted to suit one's taste and there is no real wrong way to make the dish.

Here are the general steps needed to make a simple sweet Yuan Xiao recipe (one without filling, one with filling):


  • Glutinous Rice Flour
  • Water
  • Food Coloring (Optional) - Traditionally red or pink though any color may be used
  • Red bean paste, sesame paste, chopped peanuts and sugar or other sweet filling
  • Ground Ginger (Optional)
  • Rock Candy or sugar

  1. Pour glutinous rice flour into a bowl.
  2. Add water to mix and knead until you get a doughy consistency. Add more water if mixture is too dry or more rice flour if it's too wet. Think Playdough like.
  3. {Optional} Next, the dough can be split in half and food coloring kneaded into one half of the dough.
  4. Pinch off pieces of the dough rolling them into small balls.
  5. Place the balls in a pot of boiling water. When fully cooked the balls will float.
  6. Boil another pot of water which will be used as a sweet soup. Add in rock candy and ground ginger, mixing until the sugar dissolves. Adjust amount of sugar and ginger to suit one's taste.
  7. When ready, add the cooked balls into the sweet soup and serve your dumplings.

To add the red bean paste or other sweet filling to the dumpling, proceed through step 4 above and discard the rest of the above steps.

  1. Create a hole or indent in the middle of the ball.
  2. Place your filling inside (red bean pastes, sesame paste, etc) and gently close up the ball.
  3. Put the balls into a pot of boiling water. When they float, cook for about another minute. The water the dumplings cooked in will serve as the soup for the dish.
  4. Serve and enjoy.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I grew to love dumpling soups when i lived in china town in melbourne.

    • profile image

      Chinese Lanterns 

      10 years ago

      Great to see someone else paying some attention to the lantern festival, I will be driving my users to go see it.

    • profile image

      Lantern Festival 

      10 years ago

      The Lantern Festival is very beautiful, I think you can upload more giant lantern sets pictures about this festival.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)