In Chinese culture, the Lantern Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the lunar new year (Feb 19 this year), sees celebrations marked by elaborate displays of colorfully illuminated lantern installations. Even in the coldest of weather, people will brave the elements just to get out and visit lantern exhibitions all across Asia.
But just as the Chinese Lantern Festival lights up the night, it has also traditionally lit up young hearts as well.
A few years ago, I discovered its connection to romance when the holiday happened to fall on Valentine’s Day:
In China some have dubbed the Lantern Festival the real Chinese Valentine’s Day. In the past, unmarried women were not allowed to freely leave their homes. But during the Lantern Festival, they had the chance to come out with chaperones and enjoy the lanterns in public, a wonderful opportunity to meet potential romantic partners as well.
The fact that this holiday traditionally served to encourage courtship has led people to dub it the true Chinese Valentine’s Day, instead of the Qixi Festival or Double-Seven Festival, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar.
Plus, anyone who has ever visited displays of lanterns knows just how romantic the entire atmosphere can be. The bright, colorful glow of the lanterns at night creates this magical backdrop certain to warm the hearts of any couple. And in this scenario, to borrow the lyrics of the Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen song, “…the night belongs to lovers”.
Whether you have romance on your mind or not, a visit to a lantern display in your area will surely light up your heart. And who knows? Maybe you just might meet that someone special during the Chinese Lantern Festival.
What do you think about the romantic side of the Lantern Festival in Chinese culture?