The Lantern Festival (Traditional Chinese: 元宵節/元宵; pinyin: yuanshangjie) is a traditional Chinese festival/holiday, which is celebrated by Chinese in many countries. In the Chinese calendar (a lunar calendar), the Lantern Festival is on the fifteen day of the first month, making it the first major festival after the Chinese New Year. The Lantern Festival is also called the Little New Year since it marks the end of a series of celebrations starting from the Chinese New Year.
A Buddhist holiday during the day, the Lantern Festival is often compared to Halloween because just as children go out trick-or-treating at night in Halloween, during the Lantern Festival, children will go out at night carrying bright lanterns. In ancient times, the lanterns were fairly simple for only the emperor and noblemen had large ornate ones; in modern times, lanterns have been embellished with many complex designs. For example, lanterns are now often made in the shape of animals.
Traditionally, the date also served as a day for love and matchmaking. It was one of the few nights without a strict curfew. Young persons were chaperoned in the streets in hopes of finding love. Matchmakers acted busily in hopes of pairing a couple. Often, those with brightest lanterns were deemed lucky and hopeful.
Those who do not carry lanterns often enjoy watching informal lantern parades. Other popular activities at this festival include eating tang yuan (Traditional Chinese: 湯圓), a sweet rice dumpling soup, and guessing lantern riddles, often messages of love.