China’s New Year, Lantern Festival, and an Unfortunate Ending
Marking the end of the Chinese New Year, the Lantern Festival takes place on the 15th day of the year – during the first full moon. People across Mainland China and Taiwan celebrate the festival in many colorful ways, from fiery folk traditions to firework displays and laser shows.
Unfortunately, this year’s festival ended on a somewhat sour note as an unauthorized fireworks show set an unoccupied skyscraper on fire in downtown Beijing, and one firefighter “Zhang Jianyong” lost his life fighting the blaze. Collected here are photos of the festival, and a handful from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel fire in Beijing.
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The moon passes in front of the sun, during a partial solar eclipse, as it sets over Manila Bay, in the Philippines on January 26, 2009.
Fireworks to celebrate the Chinese New Year light up the sky above Beijing, China on January 26, 2009. Chinese welcomed the arrival of the Year of the Ox with raucous celebrations on Sunday.
A Chinese man prays at a temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Jan26, 2009. [Bazuki Muhammad]
Villagers rest after a stilt walking performance in Shehuo celebrations on February 7, 2009 in Xining of Qinghai Province, China.
A man sits next to fireworks for sale on a street in Beijing for the celebration of the end of the Lunar New Year on February 9, 2009. [Peter Parks]
A giant ox lantern stands in the square of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, near the Taipei 101 building during the 2009 Taipei Lantern Festival, Saturday, Feb7, 2009, in Taipei, Taiwan. [Photo-Chiang Ying-ying]
Believers from Taiwan, Japan and Thailand gathered on Saturday to release sky lanterns as a form of prayer for good luck and blessings. [Nicky Loh]
People begin to release their sky lanterns for the Chinese Sky Lantern Festival in Pingsi, Taipei County, Taiwan. [Nicky Loh]
Elders of Pingsi – the tradition of releasing lanterns began during the Ching Dynasty when bands of outlaws frequently raided villages around Pingsi, forcing local residents to seek refuge in the mountains – The lanterns signal it’s ok to come out of hiding.
A boy passes by a large ox-shaped lantern at the Qingchuange Lantern Festival on February 8, 2009 in Wuhan of Hubei Province, China.
A local performer, dressed up as characters from the Chinese mythology, yawns during a -Shehuo- parade to celebrate the lantern festival in Longxian, Shaanxi province Feb9, 2009. [Reinhard Krause]
The Moon appears in focus as fireworks explode in the sky over Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China, during the Lantern Festival celebrations in February 9, 2009. [Jeff Xu]
People set off fireworks to celebrate the Chinese Lantern Festival in Xian, in north China’s Shanxi province on February 9, 2009.
Fireworks light up the city sky to celebrate the Chinese Lantern Festival in Xian, in north China’s Shanxi province.
The new China Central Television (CCTV) complex, still under construction, is seen on fire in Beijing. The fire, started inadvertently by an unofficial fireworks display for the LanternFestival staged by CCTV officials.
One person was killed in the fire, firefighter Zhang Jianyong, age 30. He was among the first on the scene and died from smoke inhalation.
The unoccupied Mandarin Oriental Hotel building, part of the new CCTV headquarters complex, is seen burning in Beijing, China on February 9, 2009.
Water is sprayed at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel building after it caught on fire in Beijing February 9, 2009.
A general view shows the Mandarin Oriental Hotel building (right) which burned the night before, next to the CCTV (left) building in Beijing February 10, 2009. [Jason Lee]