Thu, February 05, 2009
China > Mainland > 2009 Lantern Festival

Lantern village

2009-01-16 08:08:17 GMT2009-01-16 16:08:17 (Beijing Time)  Reuters

A Chinese lantern festival is once-a-year opportunity for Hongmiao villagers on the outskirts of Beijing to make a few extra dollars.

From small lanterns that cost one dollar each to decorative ones for public display going for up to 1,000 dollars, the village has produced over 100,000 lanterns this season.

(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) VILLAGER PARTICIPATING IN THE LANTERN PROJECT, WANG GUILI, SAYING:

"There has been a big change. Before we started making lanterns we would work out in the fields, which doesn't earn us much and when the women got together we would chat and play mahjong. Now, when we meet, we work on the lanterns. It has changed our lives -- the extra money makes life easier."

The lantern project is the brainchild of Yan Wenjun, the local party secretary who acts as village leader.

The worsening financial crisis forced him to look for new sources of income for his poor village.

(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) HONGMIAO COMMUNIST PARTY SECRETARY, YAN WENJUN, SAYING:

"The lantern tradition has come to Hongmiao. I really want to turn this into our industry and carry on the tradition of lantern making."

The lantern festival falls on the fifteenth day of the new lunar year, February 9 this year.

Each year Chinese cities and towns hold lantern displays to celebrate the ancient tradition and ringing in the new year.

Kitty Bu reporting for Reuters in Beijing.

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