Amber Parker – The Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival, or Yuan Xiao, is the last day of celebration for Chinese New Year.  Dating back to the Han Dynasty nearly 2000 years ago, Lantern Festival takes place on the fifteenth day of the New Year under the lunar calendar, marking the first full moon of the lunar year. This festival also celebrates the importance of relationships, which means people travel all over China to be reunited with their families for the holiday.

Today people celebrate Lantern Festival in many different ways. These images, captured in a small village outside Beijing, reflect the festival of fifteen small villages.  Residents gather to perform, dance, play music, and celebrate the New Year in a community-wide celebration. The most traditional of these performances include the dragon and lion dances, along with fan dances and parades, each done by troupes composed of residents of small neighborhoods. The villagers come adorned in traditional attire representing ancient imperial dynasties while onlookers come to enjoy and participate in the festivities while passing on these traditional Chinese arts to future generations.  In light of China’s rapid modernization, it is important for these traditions to be passed down to the younger generations, and through community-wide festivals like this, the young are taught the ways of the old.

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