This weeks Travel Photo of the Week is a Lantern festival. The Lantern festival is the last day of the Chinese New Year celebration, the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. It is also the first night the full moon is visible. It is often referred to as the Chinese version of St Valentines Day it is a time to celebrate love, affection and matchmaking. The nightly activities include fireworks, sparklers and traditional red paper lanterns although recently the lanterns have taken on more elaborate shapes including the animals of the Chinese zodiac and even pop culture. And of course there is a food associated with the celebration, a small glutinous rice flower dumpling ball called Yuanxiao.
There are several legends associated with the origins of the Lantern Festival, my favorite is about a beautiful crane that descended from heaven. After landing on earth it was hunted and killed. The Jade Emperor in heaven, angered buy the actions of the villagers planned on burning the village to the ground for destroying his favorite crane. When the village discovered the plans of the Jade Emperor they were in complete chaos until a wise man devised a plan to fool the Jade Emperor. The villagers hung red lanterns all around the village, set bon fires in the streets and set off fireworks. This gave the illusion of the village being ablaze. The ruse worked and the Jade Emperor returned to the heavens with out destroying the village. From then on the people celebrated the anniversary on the 15th lunar day by carrying lanterns, and setting off firecrackers and fireworks a tradition celebrated across Asia.
This year (2012) the Chinese New Year starts on the 23 of January and the Lantern Festival is 15 days later on the 6th of February the first full moon of the year.
Gong Xi Fa Cai! May the Year of the Dragon bring all of you wealth and prosperity this Lunar New Year.