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What do sky lanterns symbolize?

Sky Lanterns, also known as Kongming lanterns, are beautiful and luminous objects that are launched into the sky. These lanterns have a long history and have been used in celebrations and ceremonies for thousands of years. They may be used for entertainment or as a part of religious or cultural events. However, the meaning behind sky lanterns go beyond aesthetics and has a significant symbolization. In this blog post, we will delve into the meaning and symbolism of sky lanterns.

The Origin of Sky Lanterns

The tradition of launching sky lanterns started in ancient China, when Strategist and Military Leader, Kongming, used these flying objects. According to Chinese history, Kongming used these lanterns as signals during military operations and battles. The lanterns were equipped with candles for illumination, and they were sent up into the sky so that people could communicate with each other. The sky lanterns were made by talented craftsmen who used silk, bamboo, and bright colored paper to create the body and structure. Today, sky lanterns are still used in China, and have since been popularized around the world.

The Symbolism of Sky Lanterns

Sky Lanterns represent different things to different cultures, depending on how and where they are launched. However, there are some universal meanings that are associated with these beautiful objects.

Hope and Good Luck

One of the most common symbolic meanings of sky lanterns is hope and good luck. People launch sky lanterns into the sky so that their wishes and dreams can come true. The lanterns are said to carry away evil spirits and ill omens, bringing good luck instead. The belief is that the higher the sky lantern soars, the greater the good luck and fortune that it will bring. People often write their hopes and dreams on the lanterns before they are launched, and they elevate them into the sky, hoping for better things to come.

Blessings and Prayers

Sky lanterns also have a strong association with blessings and prayers. In Buddhist cultures, the lanterns are often used during festivals and special occasions, where they are used to represent a medium that carries people’s blessings and prayers to the heavens. It is believed that the Buddha watches over these lanterns as they float gently into the sky, and that he will answer the prayers of those who launch them.


Sky lanterns are also great for remembering loved ones who have passed away. Some people write messages to their loved ones on the lanterns before they are launched, while others choose to launch the lanterns in memory of someone special. The lanterns allow people to say goodbye to their loved ones in a unique and beautiful way, and they provide a sense of comfort and closure.

Celebration and Joy

Sky lanterns are often launched during celebrations and moments of joy, where they represent happiness and positivity. In many cultures, sky lanterns are considered to be a sign of good fortune and prosperity, and they are launched to celebrate wedding receptions, New Year’s Eve, or other special events. In this context, the lanterns represent a shared sense of optimism and hope for a joyful future.

The Environmental Impact of Sky Lanterns

While it is beautiful to watch sky lanterns fly and light up the sky, it’s essential to consider their environmental impact. There are concerns about the safety of using sky lanterns, as they can pose fire hazards, cause accidents, and fall onto people’s property, potentially causing damage. Furthermore, sky lanterns may end up polluting the environment since they are made using materials that are not biodegradable.


In conclusion, sky lanterns have a rich history and meaning that transcends cultures and borders. These beautiful objects have become symbols of hope, good luck, blessings, remembrance, and celebration, and have served as a way to communicate and connect with others for thousands of years. While it’s important to appreciate the symbolic meaning of sky lanterns, we must also ensure that we use them safely and responsibly to minimize any harm they may cause.