While sky lanterns, also known as Chinese lanterns, are just starting to gain popularity in the US, sky lanterns are known throughout the world and are used in celebrations in several different countries. Most notably, many Asian cultures find sky lanterns to be particularly significant, as they are said to imply good luck and prosperity. For this reason, they are a popular choice for wedding favors and gifts in many Asian countries. This also has helped them grow in popularity in the United States.
Although sky lanterns may seem like a relatively new invention, they have actually been part of wedding tradition for a very long time. Sky lanterns date back to early times of war when they were used as signaling devices for Chinese troops. They were an ideal choice for this since they fall back to earth after they’ve burned for a few minutes. This helps notify friendly troops discretely and without drawing attention to your position or tactics.
When times of peace had finally come, commoners began to use them for other activities. One popular ritual was using them as a means of sending wishes and prayers up towards the heavens in hopes that they would be heard more clearly. They were also viewed as representations of godliness and heavenly bodies, making them a staple addition to many festivals and celebrations throughout the region.
In current times, you can find sky lanterns of various sizes and colors, and varying materials depending on the manufacturer. They range in sizes all the way from very small to very large, making them versatile enough for and festival or celebration. Many celebrations are completely centered on the use of sky lanterns, such as the Yipeng Lantern Festival which celebrates the twelfth moon in the Buddhist Calendar.
Another common belief is that the longer the sky lantern stays floating in the air, the better luck you will be awarded. It was thought the floating sky lanterns would appease the deities, and thus bringing them luck and easing their troubles while keeping away bad spirits. It was also said that when a Buddhist monk was offered a sky lantern, they would receive wisdom and knowledge they could not previously possess, as the emanating light was thought to be the light guiding people to the path of knowledge and righteousness.
Now in America, sky lanterns are mainly used to just be fun. However, it is widely agreed upon that releasing several sky lanterns together as a group brings everyone closer together, and they are likely to enjoy a tranquil and harmonious wedding experience.