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lanternlight, lanternbright, first lantern I set off tonight...........
Member Name: pmcds
Advantages: Magical way of bringing people together and making a wish
Disadvantages: Have their dangers
Sky Lanterns are wonderful things that can really make you stop and think. Originally an Asian tradition, they are used at weddings, New Year celebrations and other special occasions, but really, they're for whatever purpose you need them to be. Adopting the same concept as a hot air balloon, and indeed thought to be a forerunner to them, sky lanterns often signify making a wish, as much as blowing out candles or pulling the wishbone on a roast chicken, for example.
I have had a few occasions where we have launched sky lanterns recently, and I have found that not only do they hold initial significance, but they can also bring people together. The first time I actually used one was at my brother's wedding, where a group of us got together later in the evening once the sun had gone down, and lit them, watching them all fly off and smiling at each other. Magical memories, and I shall always remember the wish I made watching it fly off - I'll not tell you, it's bad luck!
What is a sky lantern? Well, it's a completely biodegradable lantern, with the outer covering of rice paper being stretched over a bamboo shoot frame. There's a candle, or flammable burner at the base, and once you light this, the lantern fills with the heat and starts to rise. In high winds, they can often just fly straight along the ground, so you do need to be careful, but as long as you give yourself some room, it's quite easy to let the heat take it up. There are various different sizes and styles you can get them in, but the ones I tend to have used are roughly the same size and shape as a small bedside table, although naturally hollow and much lighter! There's nothing more magical than lighting one and watching it float up and up away into the night sky.
Of course, it makes more sense to let these off at night, as you'll get the full effect of it as a lantern, seeing it against the night sky. More recently, as a New Year celebration, we let a load off to float high, only to see a number of other close by lanterns also floating up. It was quite magical to see them rise from a few different places, obviously others had had the same idea.
But you do need to be aware of the dangers of doing something like this. Setting them off carries environmental issues beyond the obvious one of burning gas in the air. Many farmers hate them, as they can land on fields while still alight and cause damage to crops. However, the flames are often out by the time this happens, burning out while up high and out by the time the lantern floats back down to the ground. There's also the worry about animals trying to eat them, so hopefully their biodegradable nature will help to fade and wither them before this gets to be an issue. I can see the point with these issues, but it's still something I find magical, and it carries great meaning.
Historically, they have been used in battles and in festivals, but I suppose it's what each culture makes of it, and I absolutely love the togetherness that launching one of these brings me as a feeling, especially when my family are around. There's something special about looking up, arms around your closest and watching something symbolic and significant carry your wishes off into the skies, hoping they come true. A magical way to celebrate a special occasion, and one I recommend, they're also very cheap, prices working out at around £1 per lantern if you work it out. I find this incredibly good value, and www.skylanterns.co.uk have them for even cheaper. Recommended.
Summary: Lovely way to celebrate a special occasion by lighting one and letting it float off into the air
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