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Why are there Chinese Lanterns on Chinese stores?

by James Ruesch on April 5, 2016

One thing James love about Asian countries, other than how distinctive their communities are arranged, is their bizarre traditions, as well as their unique way of living. He was strolling in one of China's marketplaces when James Ruesch noticed that almost every shop he passed by had red lanterns on their storefront. Some had them swinging on the ceiling inside their shops. Maybe it was for good luck or some sort of Chinese ritual. James got curious so he scraped for more information from the Web.

Origin of Chinese Lanterns

We all know that we came from caves and the improvement of our lives only started when we discovered fire. From then on, humans started uncovering other advanced tools for working and helping out daily routines. Chinese lanterns are said to have been invented as a replacement for open flame. Lighting up a candle or torch during windy nights may had become annoying for Chinese people, so they tried to look for a solution. Eventually, they came up with a shade that protected the flame inside and controlled the amount of light it projected.

red lantern in China as seen by James Ruesch

Because of Asian people's artistic nature, they started decorating their lamps and experimenting on their shapes and sizes. They were known then as lanterns and in ancient China, some even used to write poems and riddles on the sides for they were made of paper. Today, these red ornaments are used for celebrations and festivals, not only in China but also in other places in the world.

But, why Red?

Although lanterns were originally invented as a source of light, they soon became a symbol of enlightenment and peaceful life, which meant away from evil and negative energies. Chinese people colored their lamps red because it symbolized fire that they believed could ward off evil spirits and it was also a sign of good fortune. In fact, lanterns are not the only red stuff in China. Almost everything in Chinese tradition is painted red, from dragons, carpets, to robes and clothing, and even their flag is a bright flaming red.

Now we already know why there are red lanterns hanging around Chinese restaurants and stores. Next time I'll tell you more stories Ruesch learned during his visit to China.

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