Chinese Lanterns Festival

Chinese Lanterns

There are many stories and beliefs of the origins of the Chinese Lanterns Festival, most accounts date the festival and the beginnings of the lanterns to over 2000 years ago. Most legends surrounding the lantern certainly include religion and Buddhism.

One such legend tells the story of King Wen and his desire to promote Buddhism. The King ordered that flying Chinese lanterns, hanging lanterns and hand held lanterns be lit across all cities, towns and villages in the palaces and monastries, and the homes of aristocrats and commoners alike. The paper lanterns were seen to provide a lit pathway to monastries encouraging people to follow the lanterns and become Buddhists.

Another legend associated with the Lantern Festival is Taoism. Tianguan is the god of Taoist god responsible for good fortune. His birthday falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month. It has been suggested that Tianguan likes all form of entertainment and so followers parade through China with hand-held paper lanterns during which they pray to the God for good fortune.

All across China on the 15th day of the first month of the Lunar Year master craftsmen construct multi coloured lanterns of all kinds; hand-held lanterns, flying Chinese lanterns, hanging lanterns. The paper lanterns are constructed into shapes of butterflies, dragonflies, dragons, birds and many other animals, some townships even construct their lanterns of ice!

The displaying of lanterns during the Lantern Festival lasts around 10 days each year marking the end of the Chinese New Year. Such festivals compose an important part of Chinese life and so the Hanging Lantern Festival quickly became and remains a huge part of Chinese Folklore.