Momma Told Me: Bucket List Tuesday: #8 Wish Lantern Ceremony

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bucket List Tuesday: #8 Wish Lantern Ceremony

Welcome to the second installment of my newest series: Bucket List Tuesdays. For those unfamiliar with the term, you'd be correct in assuming this moniker comes from the somewhat morbid, tongue in cheek, 'kick the bucket' adage. A Bucket List is often associated with those who've recently come to terms with their mortality, facing their golden years with retirement on the way, or in unfortunate cases those who have received an ill prognosis. However, it is my belief that we all have a hidden bucket list inside us. Remember that time you heard your cousin went skydiving and thought 'Someday,' with a chuckle? Or perhaps the little whim that often arises when you get the itch to travel- 'I'd like to see the World's Largest Ball of Twine, someday.' Yes, these are often things accompanied by 'someday', and can range from pure absurdity to life altering experiences. Essentially the are goals for life, hopes for a lifetime of limited years, in a world of limitless experiences.

It's my hope that, in writing this series, I may inspire you to consider a Bucket List for yourself, and I may be motivated to slowly begin chipping away at my own. Each week (or every other week, as time allows), I'll give you a glimpse at a different spot on my ever-growing list. If I'm actively working on them, I'll share with you my experiences thus far, if I'm not quite there yet, perhaps you can help guide me down the right path.

This week I'd like to share with you something I'm ashamed to admit I first discovered on an episode of the Bachelorette. Why am I ashamed? Because this age old, very sacred in it's origins, practice has been around for hundreds of years as part of many cultural ceremonies. I was chocked to find my initial discovery had to be on mainstream American television, when I consider myself well versed in the practices of varying cultures. In fact geography and culture have long been passions of mine; thirsting to understand the unique beliefs and practices of people world wide. How I had never before seen a Sky (Wish) Lantern ceremony, or heard of it's purpose floored me. The visual images were stunning on film, and the tangible premise so whimsical- it was an instant candidate for my bucket list.

The practice of writing/drawing on a paper lantern, then releasing it in tandem with a group of others is known as a Sky Lantern ceremony. Practiced across many Asian cultures for centuries, the particular practice of wish releasing is thought to have began in association with Chinese New Year ceremonies as far back as 3rd Century B.C., China. Citizens would write their hopes, and fears, on these blank canvases, then release them into the atmosphere. It symbolized not only a cleansing of fears and anxiety for impending times, but to release their innermost hopes and dreams towards the heavens. It is believed that any misfortune is cast away with the release of one's lantern. This was a practice not limited by class, practiced among all citizens. Poorer families would release one solitary lantern, while the royal and elite would often release hundreds in hopes for their people's prosperity as a whole. In more modern times, the practice of Wish Lantern Ceremonies have become much more commercial, and romantic.

There's a chance you've seen a similar site depicted in a popular movie, wedding planning program, or even cartoon (such as Disney's Tangled). Many North American participants have adapted from Indian practices relying on more colorful, individual lanterns; where as the dramatic wedding releases will feature more traditional (large) white paper lanterns. In modern day Thailand, this practice is most authentic, with lantern ceremonies engaging thousands of participants during seasonal celebrations. Here, colored lanterns are associated with various themes; green for growth, purple for opportunity, etc. Not only is the sight beautiful, I can only imagine the magic of casting ones innermost hopes and fears towards the sky amidst a body of similarly romantic individuals. The smell of the fuel, the warmth of the lifting lanterns, the fleeting glow of ascending twinkles in the night's sky....

While ti would be exceedingly romantic to fit this into my dream (outdoor) wedding, in an open field, surrounded by family and friends- I would like to one day experience this on large scale, as authentic as possible. Short of traveling to Thailand, my best bet for a local experience would be a Lantern Festival celebrating Chinese New Year, somewhere in February (the Lantern Festival is held annually on the 15th day of the first month of the Lunar calendar). Because of the high rise buildings an fire risks, most of the downtown Los Angeles releases are by rooftop, though discouraged by authorities. I'd love to, perhaps, catch one here along the coast one day....

Have you ever seen or participated in a Wish Lantern Ceremony?

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  1. I have only seen it done on TV but would love to participate.

  2. Interesting. I've never heard of them before or seen them but they are pretty.

  3. Oh I'd love to see a large scale lantern release in public! I've seen one released once, on July 4th, and it was so cool! I'd like to do one myself too. Maybe some day :)

  4. I haven't even heard of this before let alone seen one! Super cool!

  5. As I was reading I was going to mention Tangled in my comments but you beat me to it. I'd never heard of it till I saw it on Tangled actually, but very cool!

    Oh and I have the Weird Al Song stuck in my head now about the Largest Ball of Twine in Minnesota LOL.

  6. This looks so awesome!!! I would love to do this!

  7. My only experience with a lantern ceremony is "Tangled" but I think something like this would be an amazing experience. One I'd like to have...someday :)

  8. Not only have I never seen one, but I have never heard of it either. Sounds stunning and like a can't miss event. Thanks for letting us know.

  9. I have gotten to witness many other Asia traditions but never this one. I didn't see anyone or hear of anyone doing this for New Year's Eve when I lived in Hong Kong.

  10. I've never seen one but it's looks stunning. I'd definitely love to witness this event.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com