Today is the Lantern Festival. I completely forgot about it. It was only when I noticed the headline on The Atlantic, “Chinese Lantern Festival 2012″ that I remembered.
Today marks the end of the Chinese New Year.
Looking through the beautiful photos, I wish I could say, “Yup. These remind me of home.” Of my childhood.
I wish I could say, yup, I am of that beautiful custom and of that exotic tradition.
The truth is? I grew up in a concrete jungle much like every other cosmopolitan city around the world. Globalization is an overwhelming equalizing force indeed. The pictures look much better than what I remembered of Lantern Festival back home. Mine for many years were cheap plastic lanterns, with light bulbs inside. Candles were simply too dangerous.
As I am writing this post, I now am remembering a special lantern that looked like a big pull toy dog made of white paper that looked like real furs. I remember now how proud I was of my special lantern. I could not wait for the day to arrive when I could go into the street, joining the children walking around with lit lanterns. (I guess it was fun way back when…) I am crying now because I also remember that my special lantern caught on fire and was burnt down not long after I joined the crowd in an impromptu parade.
I was inconsolable for days afterwards.
Wow. That flashback is rather traumatic…
[Regroup via visiting Twitter and talking to random strangers... ]
[Ok. I am back!]
The funny thing is, this picture showing sky lanterns was indeed taken in Taipei. However, releasing sky lanterns is a tradition fabricated (or perhaps “invented” would be a better, at least kinder, word?) Taipei, like all cosmopolitan cities, are feeling the erosion of traditions. People are feeling the longing for a splendid past that frankly most of us had never seen. And so we decided to start making our own, and believing in the histories of it.
Self-invention. Us urbanites are experts.