The history and culture of Paper Lantern

The flying paper lanterns are one of the most recognizable traditions of the Asian continent. These flying light balloons are widely used to commemorate important events in traditional Chinese culture. Over time, they have also been used for religious and festive reasons, where in many countries they are used as lucky lamps or symbols of fortune.

There are numerous types of globes of light or lamps, but the most famous are the white or red paper, sometimes with traditional Chinese characters painted on. Today, these Chinese lanterns are used almost everywhere to celebrate events, birthdays or any other religious or cultural event.

History of Chinese lanterns

According to some historians and sinologists, Chinese flying lanterns are almost 2,000 years old and had a military and defensive function in ancient times. Despite the enormous beauty of these flying sails, its creation is attributed to the military strategist Zhuge Liang, one of the most important people in the history of China, who used the flying lanterns as an alert in case of enemy approaches. In addition, it is believed that there was a certain communication system depending on the frequency and number of flying lamps that were launched.

Chinese paper lamps are also known as “kongming lamps” as well as “wish lamps”, as many cultures write words or wishes on their paper surfaces before throwing them into the sky.

A very popular tradition in Asia

Despite their military origins, the beauty of these flying paper lanterns has allowed them to be used today in numerous events throughout Asia. Today, China uses these flying lamps to commemorate some of the most traditional events of Chinese culture, such as the Autumn Festival or the Spring Festival, among others. Tens of thousands of flying lamps are launched during these holidays throughout the country. It is also customary for people who fly them to write wishes on these lamps before lighting them and flying them into heaven.

The Chinese paper lights are also very popular in Thailand, where hundreds of thousands are released to celebrate the festival of Yi Peng, during the second full moon of the year, the lunar calendar. This tradition has expanded throughout the country and during these dates the sky will be full of small balloons of light as if they were huge stars.

Precautions for use

Despite their enormous beauty, these flying lanterns can pose some problems for the environment. The main risk when using these Chinese lamps is the risk of fire. Although the design of these lanterns is made to avoid such situations, unexpected bursts of flames or construction failures can cause these lamps to start burning in the sky, there is a notable risk of a fire spreading when the burning lamp reaches the ground. In addition, the construction materials of some flying lanterns are of very poor quality and are not biodegradable, so it is possible that they end up contaminating our land and seas.

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