According to the elders of Pingxi, the Sky Lantern Festival originated in the Xing Dynasty, more than two thousand years ago. At that time, bands of outlaws frequently raided the lowland villages, forcing residents to seek refuge in the mountains. It is celebrated on 2 March 2018.Village watchmen used “fire balloons” as signals to inform the residents that their houses were safe once again and when those hiding in the hills saw the celestial flares, they knew it was time to go home.
How it all Began
In 1990 the tourism Bureau devised an idea to carry an occasion that may facilitate celebrate native traditional knowledge. They set to carry a significant lantern festival to coincide with old customs like the Pingxi Sky lantern festival and also the Yanshui Fireworks festival.
The festival originally took place in Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei but is now set in different locations across the island each year.
Pingxi Sky Lanterns
The lunar calendar is extremely important in Taiwan so it should come as no surprise that the first full moon of the year is a considered an auspicious time of the year. There are many traditions surrounding this special night but here are the most famous.
The small hillside town of Pingxi is home to a breathtaking tradition that has made it a hugely popular tourist destination. Around the time of the first full moon, sky lanterns are released to the heavens. These were once used as signals for villagers to let their families know they were safe and sound but now carry people’s wishes and hopes for the new year into the night sky.
The Bombing of Master Han Dan
In the southern town of Taitung, a plucky soul volunteers to represent the native god of wealth, Master Han Dan on his yearly tour of the locality. This volunteer wears nothing, however, a combine of red shorts and a shawl whereas locals throw firecrackers at him. Apparently, Master Han dynasty Dan grows in power with every blast. Another festival, like Yanshui, that’s not for the faint of heart.
It’s not easy for a relatively new festival to seem so entrenched in folklore and history that people forget how young it is, but that is exactly what happened with the Lantern Festival in Taiwan. No doubt it is the fact that the original festivals still take place at the same time that lends the modern festival such an air of tradition and heritage.
The Discovery Channels ‘Fantastic Festivals of the World’ show has highlighted the Lantern Festival as one of the best festivals in the world and something everyone should try and experience once in their lifetime.