Hello, fellow Mid-Autumn lantern enthusiasts! Mid-Autumn Festival is here again, the time when we chase after light and indulge in mooncakes! On this joyous occasion, let's talk about those glittering and splendid lanterns that carry a long history, cultural symbolism, and breathtaking creativity. Let's illuminate this topic now!
The Origin, Symbolism, Function, and Type of Lanterns
Lanterns originated over two thousand years ago during the Western Han period when people used them for illumination. Looking back, maybe it was to find mooncakes in the dark! However, these lanterns later became more than just sources of light; they became symbols of celebration and reunion for the Chinese people. This explains why lanterns always shine brightly during the Mid-Autumn Festival! There are countless types of lanterns, including palace lanterns, silk lanterns, hanging lanterns, and more. Their designs are intricate and diverse, featuring figures, landscapes, flowers, birds, dragons, phoenixes, fish, and insects, among others.
Exploring Lantern Features from Various Chinese Regions
Now, let's traverse Asia and explore the unique features of lanterns!
- First, the Quanzhou-style lanterns, though they may appear ordinary, are the ancestors of all lanterns, a true classic! Like a bottle of aged lantern wine, they get better with time!
- Fuzhou-style lanterns, also known as umbrella lanterns, may remind you of that awkward moment when you forget your umbrella on a rainy day. However, these lanterns are not for rain protection; they are for decoration and can certainly add charm to your Mid-Autumn Festival.
- Gaocheng lanterns, also known as palace lanterns, are the aristocrats among lanterns, grand and majestic, like the emperor's golden throne carriage, reserved for high-ranking officials.
If you have the opportunity to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival in different places, don't forget to appreciate the unique lantern styles. Lanterns in Taiwan often feature bright colors and are frequently themed around animals or cartoon characters, always capturing children's eyes.
In some regions of China, such as Guangdong, lantern craftsmanship is highly refined, resulting in exquisite paper lanterns with intricate details and craftsmanship that is truly awe-inspiring. Additionally, the Lantern Festival in Hong Kong is famous for its spectacular and colorful lantern displays designed to attract visitors. These lanterns offer us a visual feast on Mid-Autumn night.
Lantern Styles and Creativity around Asia
Lantern styles and creativity vary widely across regions.
- In Japan, people like to use paper lanterns to decorate their gardens, known as "Chōchin." These lanterns add a touch of romance to your garden.
- In Indonesia, they use coconut shells and bamboo to make lanterns, which are eco-friendly and remind us of ancient wisdom and respect for nature.
- Thailand's floating lanterns symbolize the realization of wishes. When you see them ascend into the night sky, it's hard not to make a beautiful wish. These lanterns shine like countless stars, illuminating the dark night and people's hopes for a better life.
- In some regions of China, such as Guangdong, Guangxi, and Fujian, there is a tradition of releasing sky lanterns, especially during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Across the strait in Taiwan, a similar tradition exists. These sky lanterns are bright lucky stars in the Mid-Autumn night sky. People write their wishes on them and watch them drift away, hoping their wishes will rise with the lanterns, like a star crossing the night sky.
This tradition is truly magical, and each ascending sky lantern is a blessing, like a small dream soaring into the distance.
Different Meanings of Lanterns
Lanterns have different symbolic meanings in various regions.
- In China, lanterns symbolize the prosperity of the country and represent the brilliance of Chinese civilization. Lighting lanterns during various festivals signifies reunion and happiness.
- In Taiwan, lanterns focus more on hope and blessings, wishing for a year filled with good luck and happiness, much like a cup of sweet pearl milk tea.
- Japan: In Japan, "Chochin" is a special type of lantern often used in celebrations and festivals, especially during the summer Bon Festival. These lanterns represent respect for ancestors and are used to illuminate ceremonies and traditional events.
- Korea: Lanterns in Korea are typically used in Buddhist temples and during Buddhist holidays like Buddha's Birthday. These lanterns symbolize respect for Buddhist beliefs and are often used to create a religious and peaceful atmosphere.
In summary, lanterns play different symbolic roles in different regions, but they are generally associated with happiness, reunion, worship, and religious beliefs.
Entertaining Lantern Legends
Let me share you an interesting story about lanterns! Legend has it that after Jiang Ziya finished sealing the deities, he found himself without a role and had to substitute for other immortals on their outings. On New Year's Eve, while all the other gods had their places to go, Jiang Ziya had nowhere to be. The people, seeing his plight, decided to light a lantern at the top of a pole and let him squat under it for the night. Over time, this custom evolved into the tradition of lighting lanterns every Mid-Autumn Festival, allowing us to bask in the radiant glow of lanterns, illuminating our festivals and lives.
Mid-Autumn lanterns are not just tools to light up the night; they are a part of our culture and history, bursting with vibrant colors and sparks of creativity. No matter which type of lantern you prefer, remember to share the light and joy with your family and friends this Mid-Autumn Festival, because a happy Mid-Autumn is meant to shine brightly, like a shining star! And as for the Mid-Autumn Festival magic that keeps you from gaining weight: Celebrate first, then fix your weight later! (Don't blame me for that! XD)
Wishing for my 100th successful diet!
If you're interested in making lanterns, please refer to the images below.