The Legend of the Lantern Festival
Once upon a time, the Heavenly Emperor had a magical pet bird. The bird was magnificent, and the Heavenly Emperor loved to look at it. One day, the bird went out to play and lost its way home. The bird kept flying until it was too tired and dropped down to earth. A hunter saw the bird and shouted excitedly,“I have never seen such a beautiful bird! Let me shoot it with my bow and arrow.”And so, the hunter shot the bird with an arrow and killed it.
The Heavenly Emperor found out and said angrily,“Humans killed my beloved bird! I will send my heavenly army to set fire to humankind and kill them all.”The daughter of the Heavenly Emperor was kind, and she begged her father not to do so. She said, “Father, please do not be angry. The humans did not know that the bird was yours, please show mercy!” Hearing his daughter’s words, the Heavenly Emperor decided to delay his punishment. He would wait until the fifteenth day of the new year, after the humans finished their new year celebrations.
The Heavenly Emperor’s daughter could not bear to see humans suffer. So, she risked her life and came to earth to tell the humans about her father’s plan. Everyone was scared after they heard what was going to happen, and they did not know what to do. They gathered together and whispered,“The Heavenly Emperor is going to burn us all, what shall we do?”“Oh dear, why is this happening?” They thought long and hard.
Finally, an old man said,“I have an idea! On the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth day of the new year, let us all hang red lanterns, light firecrackers, and set off fireworks. Then, the Heavenly Emperor will think that the heavenly army has set fire on us, and believe we are all dead.” Everyone thought this was a great idea, and started to make red lanterns and firecrackers. On the fifteenth day of the new year, the heavenly army looked down from the heavens, and saw red lights everywhere. They thought that it was fire, and told the Heavenly Emperor,“Humankind is already on fire, you do not need to go to earth to set fire to them anymore.”
In the end, the humans got to keep their lives and belongings, and because of this, each and every family hangs red lanterns and lights firecrackers on the fifteenth day of the new year, to remember how their ancestors survived.