The paper lanterns are made from a sheet of thin colored paper. The shapes and sizes are numerous, and there are also various methods of construction. The simplest variants consist of a paper bag and a candle. Complex lanterns have folding bamboo or metal tongues and hard paper. Sometimes the lanterns are made of colored silk (often red) or vinyl. Silky lanterns are also painted with a folding extension and with Chinese characters. The vinyl lanterns can withstand rain, wind and sun. Paper lanterns are easy to tear, those made of silk less so. The gold paper fades in a short time and the red silk looks more like a mix of pink and red.
Paper lanterns in the Asian cultural area
The paper lanterns can be found in China, Korea and Japan and are often associated with certain celebrations and festivals. In western cultures, they are often found in the Chinese quarters, where they are hung outside and attract attention. In Japan they are Bonbori and Chochin traditionally, they are called with the special font Chochin moji labeled.
The flying paper lanterns are called sky lanterns, they are often let go at night for an aesthetic effect at lantern festivals.
There are five different classes of lanterns in China: the babys bottom are miniatures, nowadays often associated with Christmas decorations. The second class is rolling paper, which are tall, cylindrical lanterns that are often found in restaurants and bars. This is followed by the Tomato Light, or Big Red: the classic round, medium-sized lantern. In the fourth grade there is Crystal Magic, which are variously shaped geometric lamps with many squares and triangles. The last of these is called Buddhas Gastronomy – the large and grandiose globes are suitable for decorating temples and presenting them at festivals. There are also the traditional Chinese paper lanterns, in most cases red, sometimes in other colors. They are round or capsule-shaped and can be seen in shops, temples, or at festivals. The red color symbolizes happiness and joy.
Paper lanterns in the western cultural area
Putting candles or tea lights in small paper bags (called luminarias or farolitos) and leaving them outside is a tradition in Central America, used there for Christmas.
During the festival (Festa della Rificolona) in Florence, children carry colorful paper lanterns through the streets.
In Switzerland, Germany and Austria, as well as in other German-speaking countries in Europe, there is the Saint Martins parade, during which the children run around with homemade paper lanterns.
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