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Colorful Eye Candy: Taiwan Lantern Festival

After the Chinese New Year celebrations have nearly come to an end, another attractive highlight marks the grand finale: on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month - that is two weeks after New Year’s Da - the Lantern Festival or the “Minor New Year” is one more colorful, lively event for everybody to enjoy. Festive lanterns can be seen in many temples, firecrackers and colorful fireworks and hand-held lanterns or torches are lit, and rice dumplings are the favorite snack of the day. The main theme of the handmade lanterns on display follows the Chinese zodiac, so in 2015, you will see many lanterns resembling the goat (ram) in a broad variety of forms and contexts. However, lantern art also reflects the different cultural roots and customs of local villages, the creative work of individuals and cooperating schools, the Blessing Lantern Area, the Joyous Lantern Area, and much more.

Since 1990, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau organizes the Lantern Festival as an outstanding event in Taiwan, aiming to establish this beautiful celebration to become known as a unique cultural activity of far-reaching, international scale. Since 2001, county cities of Taiwan began to compete in hosting the event, and this year’s Lantern Festival will take place in Taichung at the 20-hectare Wuri High Speed Rail Special Zone. As Taichung is honored as the first city to repeatedly conduct the celebration of the Year of the Goat, lanterns will show both the topics and themes of the year 2003 and 2015.

Except for the big show of lanterns, the Yanshuei Beehive Fireworks and the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival are famous events held on this occasion. The custom of the Beehive Fireworks relates to the story of Guan Di appointing General Zhou Cang and Guan Di’s palanquin for ridding Yanshuei of a dreadful cholera epidemic taking lives since July/August 1885. Multitudes of the faithful were setting off firecrackers along their way throughout the city until the break of dawn. The Sky Lanterns custom goes back to the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220-265), where the famous strategist Zhuge Liang used them to transmit military information between beacon towers. Since the early 19th century, every year at the beginning of the spring planting season, people will release “sky lanterns” into the air as a prayer for the coming year.

More information: Taiwan Tourism Bureau