Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Rainy Lantern Festival

Sunday was Lantern Festival, which marks the end of Chinese New Year. People celebrate it by writing wishes on large paper lanterns inside of which they suspend kerosene soaked coils of cardboard. They light the cardboard and it hot air produced causes the lantern to float away into the night sky. It is quite beautiful, but also dangerous and short-sighted, as those lanterns have to eventually land somewhere. I've never heard of a fire started by one, but it must happen.

People in Taiwan also celebrate Lantern Festival with fireworks. This year the fireworks in my neighborhood seemed louder for Lantern Festival than they did for New Year's Eve. In the early evening the din was getting to the point where it was difficult to carry on a normal conversation indoors. Then, suddenly, there was a new sound. At first I thought it was just a different kind of firework, but it turned out to be a downpour of rain. As suddenly as the rain started, the noise of the fireworks subsided. Then, after a few minutes, the rain started to let up and the fireworks started up again. This cycle continued for most of the evening until the rain started coming down steadily, at which time I think the revelers gave up and went indoors.

I didn't go out to see the lanterns because of the rain, but I can't imagine anyone was very successful getting them off the ground. Paper and fire are the two main ingredients in the lanterns, neither of which does very well when mixed with water.

There is always next year.

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