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Chinese New Year 2013: Taiwan Lantern Festival Kiks Off

Thousands of Taiwanese compatriots gathered to celebrate the annual Lantern Festival which commence on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar year in the Chinese calendar, which marks the beginning of the 2013 Taiwan Lantern Festival.

In Pingxi, Taiwan Province, people release sky lanterns ahead of the traditional Chinese Lantern Festival. Believers gathered to release sky lanterns as a form of prayer for good luck and blessings. The tradition of releasing lanterns began during the Ching Dynasty when bands of outlaws frequently raided villages, forcing local residents to seek refuge in the mountains. The lanterns were signals used by the village watchmen to inform the refugees that their houses were safe again. The Lantern Festival or Yuan Xiao Jie is a Chinese festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar year in the Chinese calendar.

2013 Taiwan Lantern Festival will be held in Hsinchu County. Main subject will be "animation, technology, and culture", which represent Hsinchu County's local cultural characteristics. The lantern festival will feature five lantern zones where visitors can enjoy a variety of lanterns lit to usher in the Year of the Snake. Parades will be held on 28 February, 1 March, 2 March, 3 March, 9 March and 10 March. The main highlight of the event will be a 26m high snake-shaped lantern - symbolising the nation's success and prosperity in the year ahead.

The Lunar New Year or Spring Festival began on 10 February, marking the start of the Year of the Snake, according to the Chinese zodiac.