The Lantern Festival or Yuan Xiao Festival (simplified Chinese: 元宵节; pinyin: Yuánxiāojié) or Shang Yuan Festival (simplified Chinese: 上元节; pinyin: Shàngyuánjié) in China is a festival celebrated on the 15th day of the first month of the Lunar Year, the last day of the Lunar Chinese New Year celebration. During the Lantern Festival, children go out at night to temples carrying paper lanterns and solve riddles on the lanterns (simplified Chinese: 猜灯谜). It officially ends the Chinese New Year celebrations.
There are many different beliefs about the origin of the Lantern Festival. But one thing for sure is that it had something to do with religious worship.One legend tells us that it was a time to worship Taiyi, the God of Heaven in ancient times. The belief was that the God of Heaven controlled the destiny of the human world. He had sixteen dragons at his beck and call and he decided when to inflict drought,storms, farmine or pestilence upon human beings. Beginning with Qinshihuang, the first emperor to unite the country, all subsequent emperors ordered splendid ceremonies each year. The emperor would ask Taiyi to bring favorable weather and good health to him and his people. Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty directed special attention to this event. In 104 BC,he proclaimed it one of the most important celebrations and the ceremony would last throughout the night.
Another legend associates the Lantern Festival with Taoism. Tianguan is the Taoist god responsible for good fortune. His birthday falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month. It is said that Tianguan likes all types of entertainment. So followers prepare various kinds of activities during which they pray for good fortune.