14 February 2017 by Stephanie Henwood
15 days after the first day of the new lunar calendar (Chinese New Year’s Day) greets us with another, widely celebrated festival – The Lantern Festival, or Spring Lantern Festival.
The Lantern Festival is the second most significant celebration in the lunar calendar (after Chinese New Year) and is a celebration of the coming of light. There are other, varying beliefs surrounding Lantern Festival but the one that I like to follow is the belief surrounding the escape from the darkness of Winter – as we see this day as the beginning of the lighter days; And this is why we see so many beautifully coloured lanterns displayed. It is a festival of colour and light!
On Lantern Festival, we often feast upon glutinous food such as sweet rice balls to symbolise togetherness and good luck for the family in the new year. We may also solve riddles marked upon many of the lanterns – usually forming a message surrounding love and good fortune.
In Taiwan, The Lantern Festival has been commercialised as the equivalent of Valentine’s day, a day that we celebrate today in the UK, falling on 14th February each year. This can become confusing though as in China we celebrate a romantic ancient myth on Double Seventh Day and thus this is also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day. Double seventh festival is THE most romantic day of all the Chinese Festivals. As is Valentine’s day the most romantic western celebration.
Similar to the widely recognised ‘Valentine’s Day’, the celebration of Double Seventh Festival see’s the arrival of extra products in stores symbolising love and affection, restaurants with special romantic offerings and an increase in custom for flower shops!
Love, affection and desire are feelings that we can all recognise, that come as part of our mutual human nature. How we celebrate these feelings may differ but generally there are many similarities with the end goal being the same; To express our romantic feelings and appreciation to our loved ones.
There are so many more romantic celebrations throughout the world, like the ones we have discussed today. Some a little more extreme than others but clearly with the same end goal.
Love is something that we are all able to experience, regardless of race, religion, ethnic origin, culture or personal traits. If we keep this knowledge with us when attempting to communicate, we may find it much easier to relate to each other.
So, whether you celebrated the coming of the light on Saturday, are sharing some special time with your romantic partner this evening, or feast on spring rolls and sweet rice balls with your lover in the seventh month, we are all the same in our ability to feel and experience love.