Lantern Festival 2022—what the Chinese celebration symbolizes and signifies in Lunar New Year

Lantern Festival 2022 is upon us and is a key event in the Chinese celebration of Lunar New Year as we enter the Year of the Water Tiger

Lantern Festival 2022
(Image credit: bunya541/Getty Images)

Lantern Festival 2022 is the last of the celebrations of Chinese New Year 2022. Also known as Lunar New Year, the annual 15-day festival is traditionally celebrated in China and by Chinese communities all around the world. 

The festival's importance is rooted deep in China's rich cultural history, and it's believed that it has been celebrated for over 3,500 years. As History.com reports, "it began as a time for feasting and to honor household and heavenly deities, as well as ancestors."

One of the biggest events of the 15-day celebration is the Lantern Festival. Here's everything you need to know about the important event and how it rounds off the opening of the Year of the Water Tiger!


What is Lantern festival?

Lantern Festival is a traditional Chinese celebration that is held on the first full moon of the moon calendar 2022. An annual event, this year falling on February full moon 2022 (the Snow Moon), 

It marks the end of the Chinese New Year period and often occurs in February or early March. Its thousands of years old with countless theories as to its origin. Its history is steeped in legend, religion, and of course those red lanterns you're probably familiar with.

If you love learning about what the Chinese zodiac 2022 has in store for you, you're probably already up on what your animal sign might expect. But, no matter how great your forecast is looking—we could all do with a little extra luck, right? Well, this festival is all about shaking off last year and manifesting good luck for the year ahead.

Red gold sakura flower and branch, cherry blossom, chinese lantern lampion. Design creative concept of chinese festival celebration gong xi fa cai.

(Image credit: sofirinaja/Getty Images)

How do you celebrate lantern festival?

As the name suggests, the Lantern Festival is celebrated by lighting lanterns that are then allowed drift off into the sky. The act of lighting a lantern and letting it go is said to symbolize your ancestors. It honors their past and yours while also shining a bright new light into the new year.

As well as the lanterns, the festival also sees a whole host of traditional performances including the lion dance and the dragon dance. You're probably familiar with the incredible, intricately designed puppets worn by whole dancing groups, accompanied by traditional music.

As these animals are symbols of power and good fortune in Chinese culture, these traditional dances are believed to help bring good luck and joy in the year ahead.

What's a party without something delicious, right? And according to the BBC this time of year is traditional to eat tangyuan. Tangyuan are a sugary, hand-rolled dumpling that has become synonymous with harmony and family—perfect for a big family affair!

The BBC explain, "It’s a fitting food for the event: not only do the white dumplings resemble little floating full moons, but their round shape and that of the bowls in which they are served symbolize unity." 

"In fact, the dish’s name sounds identical to the term for ‘reunion’ in Chinese (tuán yuan)," they continue, "and it’s widely believed that eating the dish with loved ones during the full moon will bring families happiness and good fortune in the new year."

Aoife Hanna
Aoife Hanna

Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.

She's an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, hot yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.