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The History of Flying Chinese Sky Lanterns

Updated on January 23, 2012

A brief overview...

The use of sky lanterns is becoming increasingly popular. Many people use them for informal get togethers or parties. Often people use sky lanterns at birthday parties, anniversaries or even grand opening events for businesses. One of the most popular times to incorporate sky lanterns into a special occasion is during a wedding. Regardless of the reason, sky lanterns lend a festive air to any occasion. They are fun and beautiful to look at. It is no wonder their use is growing rapidly. But, this is not a new occurrence. Sky lanterns have been used for centuries and have a rich history steeped in tradition.

Sky Lantern Festivals

Sky Lanterns are frequently used in large festivals held around the world.
Sky Lanterns are frequently used in large festivals held around the world. | Source

When were Sky Lanterns first invented?

Sky lanterns were first invented by the Chinese and were actually used as a functional tool in times of war.  Troops would use them as signals to other soldiers to message each other briefly.  They would rise in the air to alert the friendly troops of danger or to tell them that all was well.  Then, they would fall to the ground.  Since then sky lanterns have been incorporated into much more pleasant uses.

When it was peacetime, sky lanterns began emerging in non military applications.  Commoners would use them to help bless their crops or to request good favour.  They would light the sky lanterns and pray for whatever it is they wanted or needed.  Sometimes they would wish for good fortune, a good harvest, fertility or whatever they wanted.  The belief was that the sky lanterns would float up to the heavens to be closer to the gods’ ears.  The additional belief was that the more sky lanterns were used and the longer they remained in the air, the better chances the people would have of their wishes and prayers coming true.

Sky Lantern Festival Video

How have Sky Lanterns progressed since then?

From there it was a natural progression to also use sky lanterns to thank the gods for their blessings. To thank the gods and as a sign of prosperity and luck, sky lanterns started being incorporated into wedding ceremonies. This tradition lasted for centuries and remains a tradition today. However, while this started out in Asian cultures, the popularity of using sky lanterns as a part of wedding ceremonies has grown and many other cultures now use it. In modern times, you see traditional white sky lanterns often used for formal weddings along with coloured flying lanterns for less formal weddings.

While flying lanterns have a history in war, religious ceremonies and weddings, their use has greatly evolved from ancient times. Nowadays you can see sky lanterns used for any type of celebration. Sky lanterns now come in many different colours, sizes, shapes and themes. They can be used for casual occasions, business use or formal occasions. With the ever increasing concern over the environment some sky lanterns are even eco friendly, ensuring no wildlife is harmed by scraps of metal and that the sky lanterns disintegrate quickly to leave no trace or waste on the earth.

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    • profile image

      Juan 3 years ago

      Oh manny r u rainbow cuz I am love u

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      Manny 3 years ago

      Hey no name you sound hot

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      Martin 3 years ago

      Totally agree Jazmin and I think his parents couldn't afford a name cause what kind of name is that No Name LMAO

    • profile image

      Jazmin 3 years ago

      Hey no name your the idiot u don't know how to spell dumbasses idiot

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      Martin 3 years ago

      Hey guys once again me I found my rainbow partner and his name is Juan thank you for reading love you RAINBOW 4LIFE

    • profile image

      No name 3 years ago

      May you two idiots stop please because it is offensive and you are all dumasses

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      Martin 3 years ago

      Hey I'm Rainbow I wish to have someone with me to make me happy in the middle of the night

    • profile image

      Jazmin 3 years ago

      I love to smell ailyns crack it smells like flowers

    • profile image

      Martin 3 years ago

      I love to drink what manny does for breakfast when he wakes up

    • profile image

      Jazmin 3 years ago

      I eat poo for breakfast

    • profile image

      Jazmin 3 years ago

      Hi I'm jazz and I eat bears

    • profile image

      Jazmin 3 years ago

      Hi jazmin nd I hate bears

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      WillSteinmetz 6 years ago

      Nice Chinese Lantern.