The Chinese Festival of Water Lanterns

The Chinese have designed and made lanterns that can float on water and glide through the air. Although sky lanterns were initially designed as a signal-sending device, today they are used as decorative items. Water lanterns in Chinese festivals have their own importance.

There is an interesting story in the History of Chinese Lanterns. These lanterns, both sky lanterns and water lanterns used in Chinese festivals, were believed to have initially been created out of necessity rather than artifacts for decoration. The Chinese have a history of inventing various new things and also leading the way in various new technologies. But, initially, the Chinese did not have access or the knowledge to make a vital building material: glass. Therefore, they did not have glass lanterns or glass windows. On the other hand, they had the ability to make paper. The paper industry in China was so advanced that it could produce paper that was very thin to allow light to pass through. They could also add beautiful colors and embellishments to the paper. Thus was born the world’s first portable light source: the flashlight.

Then these lanterns gradually adapted to float on water and glide in the sky. Such was the skill of Chinese artisans that these lanterns were used to illuminate public places, houses, and even battlefields. There is a story of a military strategist Zhuge Liang, who used paper lanterns to help the army march at night and attack by day.

Over time, this battlefield beacon became an epitome of hope, wellness, and festivity. The origin of the lantern festival dates back to the Han Dynasty. During this time, the city is decorated with beautifully crafted lanterns in different shapes and sizes and then displayed with wishes or riddles written on them.

Water lanterns at Chinese festivals such as the Moon Festival are a major tourist attraction. People from all over the world come to witness this event. On this day, children and adults make or buy water lanterns and write wishes on them. They then place these lanterns afloat in the water under the moonlight and watch as they float away.

Water lanterns in Chinese festivals along with other lanterns are used to light the way and guide the spirit of your ancestors to come and bless you. Even today this tradition is followed and people decorate their houses and public places to welcome their ancestors.

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