The Lantern Festival marks the end of the Spring Festival, a two-week holiday to celebrate Chinese New Year. In the lead up to the Lantern Festival, parks and other public places are adorned with red lanterns. During the festival’s early evening hours, children walk around their neighborhoods holding short wooden poles from which small, candle-lit lanterns are hung. It’s quite an adorable sight.
As in other East Asian countries, floating paper lanterns into the sky is also part of the Chinese Lantern Festival. Vendors in cities throughout China sell paper lanterns made for this sort of thing. Each lantern comes with a block of flammable paraffin wax and a set of instructions. The wax is placed at the bottom of the lantern’s wire frame and ignited. The hot air from the burning wax fills the lantern and sets it adrift. However, a successful flight isn’t as easy as it sounds. Many lanterns wind up crashing and literally burning. Some lanterns get caught in obstacles, like trees or wires. Some lanterns struggle to rise, and they drift across roadways only to collide with cars. In China, the government is discouraging the use of these floating lanterns out of fear of fires and additional pollution.
Fireworks are also an important part of the celebration. After all, you can’t have a celebration in China without fireworks. Some people greet the sunrise on Lantern Festival by lighting off strings of thousands of firecrackers. This is then repeated at sunset. After the sun goes down, the real fireworks begin, as people break out the big stuff.
In Anyang City, the night was filled with the satisfying thudding sound of mortars and the sharp report of bursting pyrotechnic shells. The sky was lit up as if electrified. It was quite thrilling.
Lantern Festival is celebrated on the first full moon of the first month of the Chinese Lunar. This year, Lantern Festival fell on February 14th of the Gregorian calendar.