Chinese lanterns or Denglong are known as a symbol of China and are found in almost in every Chinatown worldwide.
It is said that lanterns originated during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) when they were mainly used as a way to worship Buddha by monks. As the Emperor Liu Zhuang, who was a Buddhist himself, encouraged citizens to do the same as monks, lanterns became more and more popular all over the country. In Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), lanterns were widely used as a way by common people to celebrate festivals and their happy life.
As gas and electricity are widely used, the lantern has become a symbol of China and a decoration for festivals, such as Chinese New Year and the Lantern Festival. Large lantern fairs are held everywhere in China during festivals. Apart from traditional lanterns, there are many lanterns made with modern technology. In winter, cities in north china, like Beijing and Harbin, hold an Ice Latern Festival, huge sculptures of buildings, animals and fairies are illuminated by colourful lights to give the transparent look of a magical wonderland.
On the whole, lanterns mainly consist of a frame made of bamboo strips or metal covered with paper. Many handicrafts go into the production of lantern making such as Chinese paintings, paper-cutting, and 'pricking' in order to make lanterns look as beautiful as possible.
Lantern Festival is a time when people could see all kinds of lanterns and enjoy a typical activity and unique folk custom during the festival related to lanterns; guessing lantern riddles.
In ancient China, every family hung colourful lanterns at the gate. Some wrote riddles on pieces of paper, and attached them to the lanterns. The answer had to be guessed from a word, a poem, or a phrase. Because the riddles are interesting and thought-provoking and guessing lantern riddles makes the festival more interactive and lively, it has remained an essential activity during the Chinese Lantern Festival.