The Lantern Festival

Edmonton journal: Chengdu Lantern Festival (2010).  Millions of visitors from all parts of the world usually flock to the Chengdu Lantern Festival every year that is usually held on the 15th day of a Lunar month. In addition to the large number of glowing canopies of lanterns, the attending visitors also enjoy various performances ranging from folk music to acrobatics and narrations. Moreover, there is always sufficient food where everyone eats to his or her fill. The locals have a special meal known as Yuanxiao which is usually a small dumpling that signifies their culture.

Indeed, the Chengdu Lantern Festival forms the basis of traditional folk customs. At this festival, lanterns are appreciated on the fifteenth the day of the first month in accordance with the Chinese Lunar calendar (Getz 1998, p. 18). Particularly, the festival lasts for a whole month where several activities take place. The folk art show is also carried out during these celebrations.


The history of the Lantern festival in Chengdu can be traced back to 711 AD. This was during the reign of Tang Dynasty in China. Initially, the festival was carried out for one day. It used to take place during the 15th of January in accordance with the lunar calendar. Later, the festival was extended for ten nights. This was during the Ming dynasty. Presently, the Chengdu Lantern festival lasts for a whole month. This festival is very popular. During this single month, the entire city is usually covered with colorful lanterns (Taylor 2001, p. 162). The lanterns are usually of different colors and sizes. Indeed, this festival is a major global tourist attraction. During the festival, about ten million tourists visit the state and the capital city of Sichuan province.

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The Lantern Festival has gradually changed with the development of the history and the Chinese society. Notably, the duration has been changed by various regimes. It has moved from a one day to a one month event. China is a big country. It has diverse cultures and a long historical development (Moynagh & Worsley 2008, p. 286). This implies that the customs and cultures of people differ from one area to another. On the other hand, the city also hosts a huge fair at the Qingyang Palace. It is known for its famous Taoist temple in the city of Chengdu. Despite the various forms of entertainment that accompany this festival, the main area of attraction is an ocean of lanterns that are beautifully displayed across the entire city. In order to ensure that people are attracted to the festival each year, a new design is always developed. The launching of a new design of lanterns contributes to the fairness of the entire festival. The most popular form of design of lanterns is the dragon pole. A popular lantern may take the design of a giant golden dragon (Taylor 2001, p. 145). The lantern is coiled around a pole that is about 27 meter high. At the end, fireworks are usually placed that offer a good sight.

The Chengdu Lantern Festival is highly connected to the Chinese traditions and cultures. During this festival, the Chinese usually mark the beginning of a New Year. During the New Year, the moon is usually brightly shining in the sky (Getz 1998, p. 300). It is also characterized by thousands of dazzling stars. Thus, people normally celebrate this festival by solving puzzles in the lanterns as well as eating their Yuanxiao. In this connection, the Chengdu Lantern Festival has become an important part among local people in Chengdu.

The Chengdu Lantern Festival has been globalized over the years. From the fact that the festival attracts about 10 million tourists, it is evident that the festival has influenced the global phenomena. It has become a form of trade where Chinese utilize the change to create income from visitors. Moreover, the festival is a clear indication of how China has been able to maintain their culture despite the wave of change due to westernization. Many cultures have been abandoned in the name of globalization. This has been highly contributed by proliferation of technologies from western countries to other parts of the world. Modernity is another fact that has affected many cultures leading to the negligence of traditional cultures. Thus, people possess different knowledge.

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From a critical point of view, the Chengdu Lantern Festival has received several criticisms from individuals, both positive and negative. Firstly, the Chengdu Lantern Festival can be interpreted in terms of its authenticity. This is a situation where the festival has been questioned whether it meets the needs of the locals or not, does it reflects the importance of the event as well as the traditions it stands for? In this case, the Chengdu Lantern Festival has been celebrated for centuries. The main theme of this festival is to articulate the traditions of the Chinese people. The festival has played a crucial role in holding the traditions of the Chinese people. It acts as an authentic image that is provided by the city as it is normally treated as a special event (MacCannell 1979, p. 75). Therefore, the event reflects the historical traditions. On the other hand, the local community perceives this event as an economic opportunity. Indeed, majority view this festival as a way of earning income rather than a festival that provides them with an opportunity to integrate their identity as a community. This is a major criticism in that the Chengdu Lantern Festival has been used as a way of earning income rather that sticking to the initial purpose. This is so because majority of visitors attend this event. They have to be provided with essential commodities. This creates a market where various products are bought and sold. The locals do not have time to partake in the event as it was supposed. Instead, they engage themselves in trade. Therefore, to some extent, the festival does not essentially helps the locals to hold their identity as they are busy trading.


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