24 February 2018

Lantern Festival - The history of Lanterns

It's my first time to experience the Lantern Festival (元宵节). This year was held in Chiayi. The place was really huge, pretty tired to walk all around but it's really worth it. We walk over 5 km watching everything and all the family wonders how I have so much power being 8 month pregnant.
Lanterns was really beautiful, especially I like all the love themed. 

lantern festival chiayi 2018 taiwan lantern decorstions

The Lantern Festival is held on 15th day of the first lunar month. 
In ancient times lanterns were very simple, only the emperor could have large ones. First Lantern Festival was held in 1990. The Tourism Bureau decided to hold a major lantern festival together with Sky Lantern Festival and Yanshui Firework Festival which are very old customs. The festival originally took place in Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei. Now it's known and celebrated all around island. 


There are 3 kinds of lanterns: hanging lanterns, floating lanterns and flying lanterns. Usually a month before Lunar New Year many shops and homes hangs lanterns everywhere. 
Traditionally lanterns are red and oval shaped, decorated with red and gold tassels. The red color symbolize warmth, happiness and good fortune. 
Sometimes you can also see different colors of lanterns. Every color has its meaning: pink - romance, white - good health, green - growth, orange - money, yellow - good luck in school, light blue and purple - make dreams come true.


lantern festival chiayi 2018 taiwan lantern decorstions

 
lantern festival chiayi 2018 taiwan lantern decorstions  


Flying Lanterns are also a part of Lantern Festival. Although if you want to see them, the only place they are released is Pingxi.
Floating lanterns has different forms and some aren't used during Lunar New Year. Usually water lanterns can be seen as celebration of Ghost Month. 

The history of lanterns is more than 2000 years old when Buddhism was growing in China. Emperor Ming of Han Dynasty notices Buddhist monks would light lanterns in temples on the 15th day of first lunar month. He ordered all households, temples and the imperial palace to light lanterns on that evening. Later it developed into a folk custom.  

lantern festival chiayi 2018 taiwan lantern decorstions

There are a few legends about this festival. 
One legend talks about ancient times when people worshiped the God of Heaven - Taiyi. They believed the God can control destiny of human world. At that time Chinese emperors ordered ceremonies each year to ask the God about good weather and health for people. 

Another legend is about Tianguan - the Taoist God of Good Fortune. His birthday falls on the 15th day of first month. People believed the God likes entertainment so they prepare different kind of activities and pray for good fortune.


lantern festival chiayi 2018 taiwan lantern decorstions

lantern festival chiayi 2018 taiwan lantern decorstions

Another legend talks about beautiful crane which flew to earth from heaven. But after he landed, he was killed by some villagers. The Jade Emperor of Heaven was angry because it was his favourite crane. He planned a storm to destroy the village on 15th day of new year. The emperor's daughter warned villagers of his plans.
People would then hang lanterns, set up fires and explode fireworks on 14-16th day which would make the Emperor think the village is on fire. 

In the early days young people always went on the street in hope to find love. The brightest lanterns was symbol of good luck and hope. 

lantern festival chiayi 2018 taiwan lantern decorstions

lantern festival chiayi 2018 taiwan lantern decorstions


Second part of lantern exhibition was near Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum. Floating lanterns on Zhishan Lake was really beautiful. 

lantern festival chiayi 2018 taiwan lantern decorstions southern branch of palace national museum

lantern festival chiayi 2018 taiwan lantern decorstions southern branch of national palace museum

lantern festival chiayi 2018 taiwan lantern decorstions southern branch of national palace museum

But Chiayi isn't the only place where you can see Lantern Festival. 
The other day my husband's cousin had to go to Nantou, so we came with him together. The place wasn't very big but still could find some lantern decorations. 
We have also seen the show on water, very colorful. 

lantern festival chiayi 2018 taiwan lantern decorstions in nantou

lantern festival chiayi 2018 taiwan lantern decorstions in nantou

lantern festival chiayi 2018 taiwan lantern decorstions in nantou

lantern festival chiayi 2018 taiwan lantern decorstions in nantou






Address:
1. Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum, No. 888, Gugong Boulevard, Taibao City, Chiayi County, 612
2. 545, Nantou County, Puli Township, 南安路2018南投燈會 埔里水上燈會

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