Spectacular and serene, the sight of flocks of paper stars swimming through the skies has become increasingly popular. Sky lanterns, also known as UFO lanterns, Wish Lanterns and other names, were created in the 3rd century BC by Chinese military strategists as a form of communication during war.
These days the lanterns, considered the first hot air balloons, have become eco-friendly celebratory symbols, a way thank the gods for blessings and send your worries packing. Made from a thin material such as rice paper, a candle is attached to the lantern and lit. Hot air becomes trapped inside creating enough lift for it to float up to the sky.
Buddhists believe the sky lanterns are symbolic of your problems and worries floating away. They are offered to temples and monks in return for enlightenment, as the flame of the lantern symbolizes wisdom. The lantern’s light shows them to the ‘right path’.
During the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th century, Chinese Lanterns became a symbol of hope and good wishes. Citizens used them to bless their crops and to pray for what they needed. The belief was the sky lantern would float up to the heavens to be closer to the god’s ears. The more lanterns used, the greater chance their wishes and prayers would come true. Today during the Chinese New Year, millions of sky lanterns are released over a two week period with a wish for good luck and prosperity in the coming year.
In Thailand wish lanterns also known as Khoom Loy or Khoom Fay, are widely used all year round especially for wedding ceremonies. It is considered good luck to release a sky lantern, and many Thais also believe they are symbolic of problems and worries floating away. Their many breathtaking lantern festivals fill the sky with stunning displays.