The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month, and traditionally ends the Chinese New Year period. In 2016 it falls on February 22.
The Lantern Festival is the last day (traditionally) of China's most important festival, Spring Festival (春节 Chūnjié /chwn-jyeah/ a.k.a. the Chinese New Year festival). After the Lantern Festival, Chinese New Year taboos are no longer in effect, and all New Year decorations are taken down.
The Lantern Festival is also the first full moon night in the Chinese calendar, marking the return of spring and symbolizing the reunion of family. However, most people cannot celebrate it with their families, because there is no public holiday for this festival.
Lantern Festival Facts
Popular Chinese name: 元宵节 Yuánxiāojié /ywen-sshyaoww jyeah/ 'first night festival'
Alternative Chinese name: 上元节 Shàngyuánjié /shung-ywen-jyeah/ 'first first festival'
Date: Lunar calendar month 1 day 15 (February 22, 2016)
Importance: ends China's most important festival, Spring Festival
Celebrations: enjoying lanterns, lantern riddles, eating tangyuan a.k.a. yuanxiao (ball dumplings in soup), lion dances, dragon dances, etc.