Traditionally, the 15-day Lunar New Year celebration comes to an end during the Lantern Festival. One of the traditions that can still be seen during the Lantern Festival in Taiwan is the launching of sky lanterns (Kung-ming lanterns or “Tien-Deng” in Mandarin Chinese) into the night sky.
On Saturday, February 27th in Southern Taiwan, the village of Houying in Tainan County held a sky lantern ceremony. The event is usually held out in the countryside away from populated areas, because the lanterns may fall to earth and start a fire.
Families paid about US$6 to purchase a large paper lantern and decorate it with their New Year’s wishes. They light the fuel underneath the lantern and hold it off the ground until the heat and smoke floats the lantern away.
The Kung-ming sky lantern has decorated the night sky in Chinese culture for 1,800 years. It was surprising to see how high and how far these glowing paper lanterns could float into the black sky. With dozens of orange globes drifting in the sky around the full moon, it was a peaceful and beautiful sight. I shared the experience with many people around me and understood why this part of the culture has been preserved for so long.
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