(Fountain Hills, Ariz.) – January 31st is the first day of a 15 day festival that billions of people across China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam celebrate each year. In Arizona we will be taking a small part in the festivities by hosting the inaugural Chinese Lantern and Folk Festival in Fountain Hills (at Fountain Park). However, there are many unusual facts surrounding the 2,000 year old tradition many people do not know.
Some of the more obvious facts, like this being the Year of the Horse and red being a lucky color, are common knowledge to most. Yet, who knew that according to superstition, many will not shower, eat meat, or clean anything on the first day of the festival? The second day is believed to be the birthday of all dogs, so family canines are treated to prime cuts of meat and treats on that day? The fifth day “Po-Woo” is a day of solitude with no visitors, while people stay home to welcome the God of Wealth into their lives. The customs continue through the 15th day, which is the grand finale, the actual Lantern Festival.
In addition, fireworks are supposedly used to scare away the half lion-half dragon monster “Nian” from attacking children during the Lunar New Year. The purchase of footwear is a no-go all month long, as the word for shoes sounds like losing, or sighing in Cantonese. Finally, those born in the Year of the Horse are advised to wear red undergarments all year long to fend off bad luck and misfortune.
The Chinese Lantern & Folk Festival will be held Jan. 31 – Feb. 9 along the lake in Fountain Hills. (12925 N. Saguaro Blvd.)The festival will feature dozens of larger than life, richly-colored lit displays made from special silk material depicting animals, characters, gods, angels, flora and structures. The huge lanterns, which will be created by two dozen Chinese artisans, become a stunning kaleidoscope of colorful lights and visuals. A number of displays measure up to 60 feet long and 40 feet wide. The festival will also feature cultural dancing, entertainment, food, Tai Chi and Kung Fu demonstrations, handmade crafts and music.
Festival times will be Monday through Friday from 3 to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday noon to 10 p.m. Tickets for adults will be $12, and $8 for children 5-12. Both adults and children will receive a free gift. Children under 5 are free. Tickets can be purchased online or at the gates.
Festival Director Cathy Hum explains, “The Chinese Lantern and Folk Festival will bring the colorful and historic Eastern culture to America,” She continues, “This event will showcase the creative art of lantern making, along with featuring the Chinese arts and way of life.”
“The Town of Fountain Hills it thrilled to host the very first Chinese Lantern & Folk Festival,” said Fountain Hills Mayor Linda Kavanagh. “Our town will be the meeting place for the colorful Eastern traditions and our American traditions. It is also another opportunity to show the world what Fountain Hills has to offer in both its residents, its way of life and our area’s beautiful scenery.”
About Fountain Hills
The Town of Fountain Hills is a master planned community established in 1970. Fountain Hills is surrounded by the 3,500-foot McDowell Mountains and Scottsdale on the west and the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation on the east. In 2006, Fountain Hills was named by Phoenix Magazine as the best place to live in the Valley of the Sun. Fountain Hills has also earned a top accolade from the February 2009 Business Week, which named Fountain Hills the “Best Affordable Suburb” in all of Arizona. For more information, visit www.fh.az.gov.