The Lantern Festival

Just wanted to share with you some of the psychedelic joy of this year's Lantern Festival. The Lantern Festival marks the LAST DAY of Chinese New Year celebrations, and just for a change there will be bazillions of fireworks and another rash of house fires to light up the night.  

Legend has it that the lanterns were originally intended to venerate Buddha, way back in the Han Dynasty more than 2000 years ago. There's also the story involving a jade emperor, a crane, a band of villagers, and a fake fire, but it's so convoluted I'm going with the first explanation.

Last year we spent the Lantern Festival in Nanjing, walking along the old city wall, visiting the lantern market and eating heaps of great festival food. And because it fell on a weekend we shared the experience with a million or three Chinese people, which was claustrophobically fun, but that sort of intensity is really just a once in a lifetime only. This year, we went to Yu Gardens before the actual night of the festival to avoid the crowds. Not wholly successful, but the atmosphere was amazing, and the lanterns, as always, were totally OTT.

Like this one. Every year, Pepsi creates a wild and wonderful New Year lantern using Pepsi cans as the main building material. Genius. I can't imagine how they came up with that one. I think this year's Pepsi-eyed tiger/lion/dragon is a big improvement on last year's lame efffort, but did anyone tell them it's the Year of the Rabbit? At least it's large, dazzling, and an opportunity to showcase their new fruit juice drink, which I believe is the drink of choice of tigers/lions/dragons.

Over by the Huxintin Teahouse there is a panoramic moving lantern display with an Emperor, and a lot of......stuff. Lilypads and the like. I'm guessing this is supposed to be a Chinese legend of some description. It could even be the story of the Emperor, villagers, dead crane, and fake fire, but that is just a wild stab in the dark on my part.

And don't forget to buy your rabbit ears and flashing, singing, battery-operated rabbit toys. Enjoy!

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