The Lantern Festival is one of the most beautiful Chinese festivals in Singapore that everybody celebrates in the country! The Chinese New Year holiday will end with the Lantern Festival, also called the Yuan Xiao Jie. There would be much joy in the streets as people would fly bright drones, send up flying sparkling lanterns, and enjoy the celebrations with friends and family in natural areas and parks. If you are in Singapore during this time of year, do not miss out on this wonderful festival.
The Lantern Festival is always celebrated during the first Chinese Lunar month, on the 15th day. In 2021, the Lantern Festival will be celebrated on February 26th.
Origin of Lantern Festival
It is believed that the festival began in the Western Han Dynasty, more than 2000 years ago. This day was designated for the worship rituals for Taiyi (Tai Yi Shen), one of the sovereigns of the universe, by Emperor Wu (Han Wu Di). After his reign, unrest and intense power play came, and the people were not living happily as peace was destroyed. The new ruler, Emperor Wen (Han Wen Di), made the 15th a holiday to celebrate the return of happiness and peace. Since then, every household would light lanterns and candles, and it was known as Nao Yuan Xiao.
Another story is that the Emperor of the Eastern Han Dynasty, Emperor Ming, was a devout Buddhist, and he heard that monks would light candles on the 15th for the Buddha. For that, he wanted the temples and palace to be lit in candles and ordered the citizens to hang lanterns as well.
These events eventually blended to become the Lantern Festival we know today.
According to various folk customs of the Chinese, people gather for celebrations on the night of Yuan Xiao Jie (the Lantern Festival). Since China is a large country with diverse cultures and long history, the Lantern Festival activities and customs differ for various regions. However, every region would enjoy lighting lanterns, setting off fireworks, lantern games, flying drones, and lion dances.
Also read: Singapore Mid-Autumn Festival
Some of the most important customs are:
- Lighting Lanterns
Lighting Chinese New Year Lanterns and appreciating them is one of the main activities of the festival. When the Lantern festival comes, lanterns of many sizes and shapes are lit everywhere, including, parks, malls, households, and streets, attracting many locals and tourists. People will also choose to hold small lanterns while walking on the streets.
The Chinese new year lanterns demonstrate traditional Chinese symbols and images such as birds, animals, people, buildings, flowers, and letters. The lanterns are lit as a symbol of having a brighter future.
2. Guessing Lantern Riddles
The owners of the lanterns also write riddles on paper and attach them to the lanterns. People around it will have to guess the riddle. This tradition started in the Song Dynasty is one of the most popular and important activities of the festival. This is an interesting and very informative activity that has been popular for many centuries.
3. Lion Dances
The Lion dance is a very important traditional folk dance of the Chinese. The lion dance goes back to the Three Kingdoms Period. The ancient Chinese people regarded the lion as a symbol of strength and bravery, and the lion is believed to protect the people by driving the evil spirits away. Therefore, this traditional dance is an important event during the Lantern Festival, to pray for safety and good fortune and to ward off evil.
Places of Celebration in Singapore
During the Lantern Festival, many lantern fairs would be held in various parts of Singapore, offering tourists the best experience of the celebrations. The most popular places are:
Chinatown is one part of Singapore where the Lantern festival takes place in a full scale due to the Chinese population. You can find many activities at the Lantern festival in this part of the city. Chinatown is a blend of old and new cultures with amazing cuisines and specialties, and you can get to Chinatown by getting down at Maxwell Rd FC bus stop.
2. Gardens by the Bay
Another Lantern festival you must see is the Garden by the bay Lantern Festival. The Garden by the Bay Lantern festival is considered to be one of the most beautiful areas where the festival is celebrated. The lanterns adorn the area while visitors can enjoy street food, cultural performances, and traditional Chinese arts and crafts. Garden by the Bay mid-autumn festival is also a very popular tourist attraction. However, you can visit the Lantern festival if you are in Singapore during February or visit the Gardens by the Bay mid-autumn festival if you visit in autumn. Using redBus, you can reach the attraction by getting down at the Gardens by the Bay bus stop.
Getting your own Lanterns
You can get your own lanterns in various shops in Chinatown, such as Gemini Body Shop or in shops like Khiam Teck Party or Party & Gifts.
Lantern festival in Singapore is a must-visit attraction as experiences are worth everything. Use the discounts and offers available on redBus to get around the city and experience the Lantern Festival. With redBus, you can reach each place at the right time for taking part in various activities.