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What is the Lantern Festival?

Updated on January 22, 2014

Chinese New Year

2013 was the Year of the Snake. 2014 is the Year of the Horse.

The Chinese New Year is a fifteen day celebration. The date of the New Year changes (due to the Chinese use of the lunisolar calendar), it may begin anywhere from January 21st to February 20th. For the year 2014, the New Year starts on January 31st.

Chinese New Year celebrations begin on the last day of the old year and go into the New Year. Celebrations include: family dinners, deep cleaning, decorating doors with red papers and lanterns, fire crackers, gifts of money in red envelopes, lion dancers and it all culminates with the lantern festival. On New Year’s Eve the family meets together for a large family dinner. Usually this time is used to honor deities and ancestors. On the following day (New Year’s Day), many deep clean their homes. It is believed that with the deep cleaning, one is sweeping away ill fortune to make way for good luck. The houses are also decorated at this time with red papers and lanterns. These symbolize wealth and longevity. Legend says that many years ago, at the beginning of New Year a beast named Nian descended upon the villagers eating livestock, crops and even humans. One day it was discovered that red frightened Nian and the beast would cease to pillage when it saw the color red near. This being the reason why red is the traditional color of the New Year. Throughout the New Year, lion dancers parade up and down the streets, dancing and beating drums. It is said that the loud drumming scares away the evil spirits.

Lantern Festival 2012 in Shanghai (via Wikimedia Commons)
Lantern Festival 2012 in Shanghai (via Wikimedia Commons) | Source

But what about the lanterns?

Perhaps one of the most spectacular events of Chinese New Year is the Lantern Festival. This Festival is on the last day of the New Year and is an event that ends the Chinese New Year. The lantern festival is said to have originated from the torch festival. Long ago during the torch festival the villagers would hold torches and drive away the worm beast from the countryside. The worm beast took with it the pests thus ensuring a good harvest for the villagers. Today, all sorts of lanterns are lit, the most popular being red lanterns. Although specialty lanterns are created, and during the festival there may be a lantern contest in which these specially crafted lanterns are judged for their artisan and awards are given for the most appealing. During this festival a typical citizen is seen eating rice balls, enjoying a family reunion and gazing at the lanterns. On many of the lanterns there may hang a riddle. Typical riddles one may find on a lantern are this: What’s full of holes but still holds water? (a sponge), What building has the most stories? (a library). The entertainment is that you go about trying to solve the riddles. Children and adults alike enjoy this event.

If you're a teacher

In celebration of Chinese New Year, a classroom could easily recreate the lantern festival. Lanterns could be made and the students could research out a riddle and hang it from their lantern. While trying to solve each other’s riddles, a contest could evolve to celebrate the best decorated lantern.

However you choose to celebrate, take this time to learn about a different culture and to teach that being different is fun and exciting. In the words of the Chinese: “Gung Hei Fat Choi”, congratulations and be prosperous.

How to make a Chinese Lantern

You'll need the following supplies:

• small plastic container (recycle a cherry tomatoes container for example)
• tube of toilet paper roll
• red tissue paper
• mod podge ®
• construction paper (optional)
• pencil
• small sharp scissors
• white glue
• glue gun
• gold acrylic paint
• gold wire
• pliers to cut the wire
• pliers to bend the wire
• golden ribbon
• golden ribbon with fringes
• LED candle (optional)

Cut a slice of 2.5 cm (1 in) of toilet paper roll with small pointy scissors.

Glue the slice of toilet paper roll to the bottom of the plastic container with the glue gun.

Note: if your container has a hole, glue the slice of toilet paper roll on a piece of construction paper on the bottom of the container.

Tear the red tissue paper into strips.

Brush the plastic container with Mod Podge and cover it completely with strips of red tissue paper.

Proceed the same way with the lid of the container

Let dry.


Take a golden metallic wire and cut a piece long enough to create a handle for the lantern.

Take the lid of the plastic container and, with a pair of small sharp scissors, make a small hole on either side of the lid.

Take the piece of metallic wire and bend one end and pass it through one of the holes in the lid.

Then, bend the other end and insert it in the other hole to form the handle of the lantern.

Take a 1 inch piece of narrow cardboard tube and paint it with gold paint.

Glue the golden ribbon with fringes all around the narrow tube with the glue gun.


Then, glue the tube with the fringes underneath the lantern with the glue gun.

Take a small LED candle; turn it on and place it in the cardboard ring on the bottom of the lantern.

Then put the lid of the plastic container back in place to obtain the complete lantern.

To finish the decoration, you can add a golden ribbon around the lantern.

If you wish, you can even paint the symbol of the year on one side of the lantern with gold paint.

Source

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    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Hi Dear Joelle,

      What a spectacular event, the Lantern Festival! I bet it is something to see in person. Love your lantern craft. Great photos and love the end result. Looks like a lot of fun to make, so colorful too.

      Up and more and sharing.

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for coming to my little lantern festival, Faith :-) It must be quite special to celebrate the Lantern Festival in China! So many things to see in the world! For now, I have to make do with my little lantern :-)

      I love creating projects that use light especially since the little LED candles exist; it's fun for the kids and not dangerous!

      Blessings to you too!

    • drpennypincher profile image

      Dr Penny Pincher 3 years ago from Iowa, USA

      Kids like things that light up- I'm sure this will be a very popular project! It seems like you could actually use this as a lantern to provide light for walking around the dark house at night, or as a nightlight in a kid's room.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great teaching unit, Joelle. We don't have any of this happening in our city that I'm aware of. Hopefully we will see a bit more diversity in the future around here. I'm passing this on to some teacher friends of mine.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Joelle, This is a very interesting article on Chinese New Year celebrations and the lantern festival. A great guide for teachers as is the instructions for making a lantern, but interesting for all.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Your are absolutely right, DrPennyPincher! This little lantern can be done in any color and for any occasion. As you said, kids love walking around the dark house or any dark space for that matter and have a source of light with them :-) Thank you for coming and commenting!

      Have a great day!

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you vor the visit, comment and passing the info to a teacher, Bill :-) It's very kind of you!

      We are lucky in Ottawa because we have a lot of diversity and all kinds of festivals and events. Maybe because I had to adapt to change as a kid, I love to discover different cultures and learn about them; Ottawa is ideal for that :-)

      Have a fantastic day!

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Hi Jodah! Thank you very much for your visit and comment! It's my hope that this article can be useful for teachers. It's more fun for kids to learn with a concrete example and I am sure that kids would love creating their own lantern.

      Have a wonderful day!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      What an original idea and a good way to include other cultures into the classroom (or home). Voted up +++, shared, and pinning.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you so much for your kind words, vote and pin, Flourish! I love to discover different cultures and I think it's even more fun when you can create something to relate to a special event :-)

      Enjoy the rest of the day!

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 3 years ago from USA

      Another great hub, Joelle! These lanterns are so beautiful and creative. I've always loved the look of paper lanterns at night time. Thanks for the wonderful classroom ideas and giving me a great suggestion on how to make my own. Voted up and pinned!

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much, Donna :-) I also love those lanterns. I have several ideas of lanterns in preparation but I really wanted to start with one easy enough for young children. Thank you for the vote and pinning!

      Enjoy the rest of your day :-)

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      I really love reading your articles. They are always so creative and well put together. Great job!

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for your kind comment Victoria! I have fun creating and I like to share some of my ideas; I know that it can help some teachers and the en result is that kids are the winners :-)

      Have a nice evening!

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Joelle, beautiful, informative and artistic. This is a wonderful hub, I really enjoyed reading about the Chinese New Year.

      Well done!

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for your kind comment, Jo! It must be late in your corner of the world! I really enjoyed creating that little lantern. Recycling and transforming for a new use can be sometimes surprising :-)

      Sleep well!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      The Lantern festival sounds great and you have created a wonderful hub on this event.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for your visit and kind comment, Devika! Always a pleasure to "see" you :-)

      Have a nice weekend!

    • mylindaelliott profile image

      mylindaelliott 3 years ago from Louisiana

      How cool, the one you made is so lovely.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Very interesting and voted up.

      Eddy.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for your sweet comment, MylindaElliott :-) I really enjoyed creating this lantern. I was happy to see that my idea could work:-)

      Have a great weekend!

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thanks for the visit and the vote, Eddy! I hope all is well with you!

      I wish you and Dai a wonderful weekend!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

      What a lovely idea and learning tool. I was lucky enough to be in San Francisco years ago during the Chinese New Year and it was such an amazing celebration. This really reminds me of that.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for your visit and kind comment, Glimmer Twin Fan! I can easily imagine that it must be quite an experience to celebrate the Chinese New Year with all those bright lanterns as well as the representation of the animal of the year. Even if there is a big Chinese community in Ottawa, I don't think we usually have a big celegration outside; it's probably too cold. They have special events in some restaurants.

      Have a great week!

    • LadyFiddler profile image

      Joanna Chandler 3 years ago from On planet Earth

      Thanks for that interesting information on the Chinese New Year and for your artistic work :) i do have a friend in china and i know stores are closed from the 29th until a few days passes.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much for your visit and lovely comment, Joanna. I suppose that in China it must be quite a special time; I suppose it's like Thanks Giving in the U.S. where everybody goes to meet with their family!

      Have a fantastic week! I suppose the weather must be fantastic where you live..... we are still freezing :-( I am dreaming of turquoise water and palm trees ;-)

    • LadyFiddler profile image

      Joanna Chandler 3 years ago from On planet Earth

      LOL well we have scorching sun and a few scattered showers as it is our dry season. However whenever there is winter in the United States @ nights and early mornings ,we feel a chill it makes cold compare to usual days where we need a fan or air condition.

      But just as it's freezing there the scorching sun isn't too nice always, because it is so hot at times and when you have to move around in it, you feel dehydrated and weary when you get in.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      I know what you mean.... the extremes are never good. We can have very warm weather in the summer here. In the summer, I try not to complain and I remind myself that winter will come back in no time ;-)

      Have a nice evening!

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

      Hi Joelle

      I disappear for a week and you go and publish a really good hub. The lantern looks great and good fun to make as well.

      My little one came home from school today with a Chinese New Year envelope, they had made. I realised at the time that I knew nothing about the holiday. So thank you letting me know. :)

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Hi Anna! You make me smile :-)))

      Thank you for your kind comment! I had that idea since last year but didn't had time to do it! I have two others in preparation (in my mind and in my computer) for next year. I hope I will have time to create them!

      It's nice to know that your little one is learning about the Chinese New Year. There is so many things to learn about other cultures! We have a big Chinese community in Ottawa.

      There is a big arch in the Chinese neighbourhood since a few years :

      http://bit.ly/1ffHTfg. You can even see the snow because for sure that we have snow in January or February :-)

      The weekend is coming soon... so enjoy your weekend!

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 3 years ago

      Hi Kidscrafts, This was such a Fun and Educational read. It's always so Interesting to learn about the Chinese Community, and how they Celebrate their Holiday, for FIFTEEN days...The younger generation must LOVE it. The Lanterns are Wonderful as are your instructions.

      Voted UP!

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for your visit, kind comments and vote, b.Malin! It must be quite special to celebrate that in China!

      Enjoy the warm weather down South :-)

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      This is so creative, and I love the suggested cherry tomato container to use for the base.

      Beautifully done.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you Crafty! It's nice to see you back :-) I hope everything is settling back in place for you at home :-)

      Have a nice day!

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 3 years ago from Canada

      What a fabulous hub, so informative and full of great instructions. Think I might give a variation of this a go this weekend with my girls. Great hub!

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you so much, Thundermama! Go for it and your daughters will love to spend that quality time with you! Have a nice evening!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Gong Xi Fa Cai! Joelle! A beautiful hub and thank you so much for raising awareness of Chinese culture!! Sharing.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Happy New Year to you too, Michelle :-) I love to learn about different culture; it's a richness to know and to understand the culture of others. I think if we all knew more about each other, the Earth would be for sure a better place :-) I hope that you had great celebrations with the special year of the horse :-)

    • profile image

      ignugent17 3 years ago

      Kids will enjoy doing this and appreciate the Chinese culture. Have a wonderful day!

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for the comment, Ignugent! I think it's important to share projects of different culture. It's a great way for kids to learn!

      Enjoy your day too!

    • stricktlydating profile image

      StricktlyDating 3 years ago from Australia

      That is the coolest way to make a Chinese lantern and it looks fantastic! I really enjoy your unique craft Hubs, happy weekend to you to :)

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much for your kind words, StricktlyDating :-) It was fun to create that lantern :-) Enjoy your week!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I am going to make some of these for my patio this summer, they would look so good with all my plants. I don't know why I never saw this. It is really getting to be a job looking for hubs I have not gotten notice of, but glad I found this, it's a keeper! ^

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much for your visit and kind comment, Jackie! You could indeed create those lanterns in all kind of shapes and colours! I created mine with red tissue paper because of the Chinese New Year but now it's possible to find either plain coloured tissue paper or with different patterns!

      Enjoy your evening!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      Kidscrafts this is so well explained...both the story behind the festival and the how to portion. I will be giving this a try.

      Pinning

      Angels are on the way today ps

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much Pstraubie for your kind comment and pinning :-) Thank you also for the angels, we can always use their help!

      I hope that your will have fun creating this project!

      Enjoy the rest of your day!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      What an interesting hub Joelle. I was not aware of the history of the Lantern Festival. It would be great to see this in person. You made the lantern look so easy to assemble with great instructions and photos. Maybe we'll give this a shot with our grandson. Have a wonderful week.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for your visit and kind comment, Bill! I don't know if you ever intend to go and visit China.... but if you do try it around the time of the New Year; it must be quite a show to witness!

      If you have time to create a little lantern with your grandson, I am sure he will appreciate both the project and the quality time you spend with him :-)

      You too, have a wonderful week!

    • WriterJanis profile image

      Janis 3 years ago from California

      These are so beautiful. I would love to see one of these ceremonies in person.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much for your visit and kind comment, WriterJanis. I think you have to add a visit to the Lantern Festival to your bucket list :-)

      Have a great week!

    • Susan Recipes profile image

      Susan 3 years ago from India

      Wow... These Lantern looks so beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Voted up.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much for your visit and kind comment Susan Recipes :-) Do you have something similar of the Chinese Festival in India?

      Enjoy your weekend!

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 2 years ago

      i've heard of the chinese lantern festival before. I'm glad I was able to learn more about it from your hub and that you added a how to make your own lantern. thank you. voted up.

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