62,000 lanterns lighten up Beijing for Spring Festival

Beijing, Feb 4 (IANS) Chinese government workers have decorated 174 avenues, 27 parks and tourist attractions, and 28 commercial areas in Beijing with 62,000 lanterns ahead of the Lunar New Year festivities.

The Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment said on Thursday that it had also laid out more than 730,000 metres of landscape lighting across the city, Xinhua news agency reported.

Wu Yamei, deputy director of the commission, said it had followed official guidelines on frugality in designing the decorations.

“We used normal materials like silk and plastics to make the lanterns,” Wu said.

The Spring Festival, or the Lunar New Year, which falls on February 8 this year, is China’s biggest public holiday.

The commission said the festival lights will be turned on from 6 p.m. to midnight every night between February 6 and 13.

The custom of hanging lanterns during festivals in China could date back to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – 24 AD). Ancient people, especially children, go out at night carrying paper lanterns and read and solve riddles pasted onto the lanterns on the festival. They also hang up red lanterns to create festive atmosphere during the festival, which has been kept as a custom up to now.

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