February is one of the great festival months in China and Beijing, the capital, celebrates with enthusiasm the Lantern Festival, which this year will be on February 24.
Like every year, the exhibition of lanterns is still a big event on the 15th of the first lunar month in China when all cities are extraordinarily illuminated at nightfall .
According to tradition, since the beginning of the new year, at the time that the brilliant full moon is seen on earth, many lanterns of different colors and shapes in hanging baskets must be seen.
Since long ago, different dynasties and governments have paid special attention to this event. In the year 104 BC., it was officially proclaimed that this would be one of the most important celebrations and that the ceremony would last all night.
One of the longest celebrations of this festival took place in the fifteenth century when the festivities continued for ten days, by the order of Emperor Cheng Zu.
During the Lantern Festival, children go out to temples at night carrying paper lanterns and solve riddles while they play with them. This is the way the Chinese New Year celebrations officially terminate, a moment of encounter and good wishes from friends and family. Among the traditions is that of a tasty delight ´Yuanxiao´, a glutinous rice ball that symbolizes family togetherness, it can bring happiness and good luck in the new year to the family .
In antiquity the lanterns were fairly simple, and only the emperor and noblemen had large and very ornate ones. At the present time the lanterns have become more elaborate filled with a variety of drawings and designs. What does not change is the sense of its meaning, of looking at the future and symbolize its arrival.
There are many different beliefs about the origin of the Lantern Festival, however, is likely that they have had something to do with celebrating and cultivating positive relationships between people, families, nature and the higher beings that are thought to be responsible for bringing or returning light each year.
One of these beliefs is related to Taoism. Tianguan is the Taoist god responsible for good fortune and whose birthday falls on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. For this reason his followers decided to prepare various kinds of activities amongst which is also praying for good luck.
Another legend associates the Lantern Festival with an ancient warrior name Lan Moon, who led a revolt against the tyrannical king in ancient China. He died in the assault on the city and the rebels commemorated the festival in his name.
One of the most beautiful is the legend that tells the story of a bird that was the favorite of the Jade Emperor who had been married by villagers. The fury of the Emperor was massive and he started a firestorm to destroy the village in the fifteenth lunar day. The Emperor´s daughter warned the people of what would happen, and a wise man told each family to hang red lanterns around their houses, making bonfires in the streets and throwing firecrackers in the lunar days XIV, XV and XVI. In the fifteenth lunar day, troops of the Emperor saw the village and returned to inform the emperor that the town was already on flames, avoiding the firestorm. From that day on, people celebrate this holiday.
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Whatever the origin of this beautiful celebration is, spending a few good days in apartments in Beijing will make you only this beautiful festival of light, good will and peace.