Chinese Sky Lantern Festival – Let There Be Flight!

Chinese New Year Lanterns, also known as Sky Lanterns, will add a new element of excitement to any given occasion. With a highly appealing appearance, the sparkle of the lantern can be seen flying up in the air for up to 20 minutes and will travel several miles in distance. They keep running until the flame blows out and gently floats back down for a safe landing. In China, Asia and elsewhere around the world, lanterns have been an integral part of traditions for centuries. They are launched for play or as part of long-established festivities. A number of Chinese lanterns are usually set at once, making the sky appear mystifying and beautiful as they collectively float in the air. They are available in an array of different sizes, with different prices suiting budgets and requirements of any kind. The lanterns also come with different patterns and shapes, such as star, diamond, tube, eclipse as well as traditional round design. They are accessible in different sizes that range from 3 inches to 24 inches wide. These are some of the various uses of this artifact.

How Did The Lanterns And The Festival Came To Be One of the Popular Festivals Around the World?

Chinese lanterns have been in existence for over two thousand years, yet today they look very much like the originals. Framed with bamboo, or Redwood, then covered with thin paper, silk fabric, or gauze. Flying lanterns, or sky lanterns are, basically, the same type of lantern with a heat source in their center, originally a candle. If these lanterns are not fastened securely, they will fly away into the night sky when released. The first lanterns of this type were invented by Kong Ming, an early Chinese military strategist. His lanterns were not for celebrations or festive occasions, but used to send lighted messages into the night air during war times. Many hundreds of years later The United States celebrated their national Fourth of July holidays by sending hundreds of these lanterns into the night sky. These lanterns have since been banned due to their capabilities of starting fires, and interfering with airplanes. The Zouma Deng lights, meaning roundabout, arrived several hundred years later than the common paper lanterns, and are shaped to resemble a tiny pavilion with its upturned corners. This type of lantern has a center wire shaft that spins small attached papers around when the candle heat warms the inside of the lantern, making it look animated. The Chinese still decorate their houses with brightly colored paper lights, telling their neighbors any breaking news. The color red represents new beginnings, so is displayed to announce a new baby, or marriage. Blue is used when someone in the house is ill. White lights mean a household is mourning a relative’s death. Lanterns are now used to celebrate yearly festivals, one of the most important celebrated by the Chinese: The Lantern Festival has been in existence since the year 230 B.C., and has been celebrated each Chinese New Year except for a period between 1966 and 1976. Since that time the Lantern Festival has returned, and is bigger than ever. These days, lanterns are made using paper or paper mache. Paper lanterns can be purchased in any variety of bright colors and sizes or you can design and cut out your own made with construction paper. Paper lanterns are then decorated with sequins, glitter, decorative stickers, ribbons and paint. These are hung for celebrations with or without lights. Some have battery-operated tea lights or use regular bulbs. Kids enjoy making paper mache lanterns by blowing up balloons and covering them with homemade paper mache. Each unique form is allowed to dry and the balloon is popped and then decorated.   Trace The History Of Paper Lanterns There are many different and fascinating stories about the importance of paper lanterns in celebrations. The use of lanterns in festivals can be traced back to festivals held by Ying Zheng, the First Emperor of China, who is also known for having a mausoleum guarded by a life-sized Terracotta Army. One of the earliest stories of lantern festivals tells of the bird that flew to earth from heaven. The bird was killed by villagers. This angered the Jade Emperor in Heaven because the bird was his favorite one. The Jade Emperor plotted to destroy the village in a storm of fire on the 15th lunar day. The Jade Emperor’s daughter warned the villagers of her father’s intention to destroy their village. A wise man suggested that if every on hung red lanterns around their homes, set of fireworks and set fires in the streets on the14th, 15th, and 16th lunar days it would give the village the appearance that it was on fire and the Jade Emperor would not destroy their village. The story goes that, on the 15th lunar day, the Jade Emperor sent an army to destroy the village, but when they arrived they saw that the village was already on fire. They sent word to the Jade Emperor that the village was destroyed, and the Jade Emperor was satisfied. Red paper lanterns play an important role in this story and thus they are commonly used in lantern festivals that take place on the 15th lunar day and also on Chinese or Lunar New Year. The history of the use of paper lanterns spans over 2,000 years. It seems that no matter the time period or place, the use of paper lanterns are a beautiful inexpensive way to decorate for an event or even perhaps save a village. Lanterns are often found in Chinatowns. They can often be found hanging outside of stores or restaurants. These lanterns have long been used to attract the attention of potential customers.

Celebration Of The New Year

Chinese lanterns are very prominent during festivals, but they are most frequently used for the New Year celebrations. To bring-forth the New Year, people would write messages on the lanterns asking for a good year. They would also mention their hopes, dreams and prayers for the future.   Other Customs: • In China, there are festivities or exhibits on the night of the first full moon. People walk to the events holding lanterns shaped like the zodiac animal of the year. This year, tiger lanterns and prosperity lanterns are popular designs, costing from 10-500 yuan (around US $1.50 – 70), depending on size and design. • People gather together and ate tang yuan, as it symbolizes reunions. Tang yuan or Xuan Yiao are made from glutinous rice balls that have different fillings. • In Taiwan, people make lanterns and write their prayers on the lanterns. The lanterns are then filled with hot air, and the lanterns float up to the sky, carrying the prayers up towards the deities in heaven. • Older customs: Instead of tang yuan, people in the rural Chinese communities gathered together outdoors on the night of the first full moon then they shared sweet yams. It is believed that the sweet yams will satisfy the soul, making the human less likely to go to ancestors in the other life. • Another old custom: People would hang lanterns with riddles written on the lanterns. People would then look through the riddles and tell the lantern owner the solution to riddle. If you got the correct answer, the lantern owner would give a little gift. Overall, the Chinese New Year lanterns are believed to have a direct conduit to the heavens as well as being a symbol of problems, worries, and stress floating away.

Luck And Prosperity

The lanterns are thought to bring good luck and prosperity to those releasing them. Besides Asians, people around the world send their wishes as they let off their lanterns, with the belief that their hopes and wishes will come true when the lanterns glided into the sky. This is partly why they are common during the Chinese New Year as people hope that their wishes and dreams become a reality in the New Year.

Signify Occasions

The release of lanterns into the night sky is said to signify moments of magic. This is why they are usually released at the birth of a child, wedding ceremonies and other such important occasions. They are also widely used during national holidays and celebrations. The Chinese lanterns announce their positive news to the world as they gracefully cascade through the sky.

Light Up Celebrations

Besides its military use, Chinese New Year lanterns have gained tremendous popularity amongst children, especially at carnivals and festive occasions. The bright colors and spiritual natural captures the children’s imagination. These days, the lanterns are used for different reasons and occasions. Besides Asia, they are used worldwide for birthdays, parties, festivals, grand openings, memorials, weddings and much more.

Now…..Ready To Celebrate Chinese New Year? How About Making Your Own Lanterns?

It can be a good hobby! Suppose you have free time that you don’t know how to spend. Or you like paper lanterns, but you cannot afford to purchase them. Then why don’t you make your own? This will be an enjoyable hobby for you and will also save you some money. Making a paper lantern is very easy because of its simple construction. You just have to place a candle inside a paper bag and decorate the outside of the lantern. Consider the patterned paper lantern. When you close your eyes and try to visualize one, you get an image of a round or cylindrical object glowing with light. Perhaps, it is colored. Maybe, you see a red one with a dragon on it, or a white one with some Japanese or Chinese characters printed on it. While paper lanterns are now popular across the world, they were originally an exclusive part of Asian cultures. When you visualize a lantern in your mind (or when you search for images on Google), you usually see Chinese or Japanese paper lanterns. Let’s take a look at the origin and evolution of paper lanterns in the Chinese and Japanese cultures.   China makes them best China is the country with the highest these lanterns. The Chinese paper lantern is very useful because its light will hit every area of your house. There are five well-known types: 1- Baby’s bottom (can be made in any form) 2- Rolling Paper (tall and cylindrical type) 3- Tomato light or Big Red (classic round mid-sized lanterns) 4- Crystal Magic (variously shaped geometric lanterns) 5- Buddha’s Gastronomy (the largest lanterns)   Another good maker The art of making paper came to Japan through China. During the ancient times, paper was believed to possess qualities that would help drive away evil spirits. Paper was distributed by the priests who gave it to few people. Once the Japanese learnt the art of making paper, paper lanterns replaced stone lanterns in many existing festivals. Shinto temples were especially known for making lanterns from paper in different shapes, sizes and colors. The use of such lanterns in Japan’s Festival of Dead (The Japanese Lantern Festival) sealed their place in Japanese culture. That said, today Japan also has a great tradition of making high quality lanterns with paper. During the festive season, Japanese paper lanterns play a key role in brightening the occasion. They have a unique style: lettering in their lanterns. Bonbori and chochin are the names for very famous traditional styles of them. Chochin moji is the most popular type of lettering. Airborne paper, or sky, lanterns are released at night during Japanese festivals. It is very easy to make Japanese paper lanterns at home.   Brightening Christmas Eve. Also, today many people are interested in making these lanterns at Christmas time. These lanterns have become traditional Christmas decorations and can also be used as gifts. This good habit of making lanterns with paper leads to a more colourful and brighter Christmas for these people…….it is not only for Chinese new year, now you know!   So do not waste your time You can make them in your leisure time. It is not at all difficult. There are some materials needed to make them: construction paper, scissors, staplers, tape, rulers, pencils, glitter, glue, decorations, etc. With these materials, you can start working on your first one. After a few days, you will become efficient and never want to buy another market made one. So this good habit will save you a lot of money.   With all the information overload you have received in this article, let’s cut to the chase….Lantern Festival, is one of the most celebrated and glamorous cultural events in China and one that has long attracted the greatest number of travelers. To say that it’s not to be missed would be an understatement……take a chance and head to China this year for the Lanterns festival!

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