LANTERN FESTIVAL: Day 169, Friday February 14 2014

On cloud nine all day. So much smiling, laughing, and crying all at once. Goofy grin on my face all day.

We were congratulated by all of our colleagues, even the Chinese ones who didn’t fully understand what getting engaged meant. It’s not a common practice in China to get engaged, and the concept is only now growing because of interest in western culture’s traditions. In China if you have been dating you are just expected to get married. “So I hear you engaged Nate,” Lainey said to me as I showed off my ring. Nate was also told “Congratulations I heard you promoted Jenn,” by another one of the CTs.

The most beautiful lanterns we saw were hanging up outside a store. We passed them on our way the the square, I guess they helped raise our excitement, and make the disappointment that much worse.

We went to the square after work to see the lantern festival. There was a lot of excitement surrounding it because this was one of the rare occasions that the lantern festival fell on the same day as valentines day. It ended up being a bunch of overcrowded flashy disappointment. We bought a floating lantern to let off, only to have it confiscated. Apparently there was a ban, too many lanterns end up catching buildings on fire I guess. I thought it was a little funny that they weren’t concerned about the fireworks that caught buildings on fire. There were one or two lanterns that actually made it into the sky. The biggest attraction was Baotu springs, which was full of flashy christmas lights and tacky butterfly lanterns. The square itself was full of flashing hearts, and blinking flowers along with the usual cheep noise makers and plastic do-dads.

Away from the crowds and security guards lanterns were being released into the sky.

We left the square to find a cab home, which of course was impossible on a friday night that also coincided with a holiday. We walked away from the crowds following the canal. Away from the security guards and excitement lanterns were being released all along the river. Beautiful, but yes dangerous. As the fire inside the lantern burned the fabric around it swelled, and in order to gain height without burning itself up the lantern had to be released at just the right moment and in just the right way. Dangerous or not we were glad the tradition was not entirely dead. It amazes me how sometimes in order to see beauty you just need to stop looking.

A loan lantern makes it into the sky.



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