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August 26, 2009

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Lovers now lower the lanterns

A GROUP of city people has changed their plans of celebrating Qixi Festival, or Chinese Valentine's Day, after concerns about airline safety.

The expressions of love will now move from the sky to the water.

They had planned to release Kong Ming lanterns in the air tonight in Zhujiajiao Town of Qingpu District.

However, the town is too close to Hongqiao International Airport.

Lore says the Kong Ming lantern was invented by Zhuge Liang, a chancellor of the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280 AD). The lantern operates much the same as a fire-driven balloon.

It may fly hundreds of meters high and air authorities believe them to be threats to planes.

More than 60 people signed up for the lantern event through the Internet.

Organizers said they would instead float river lanterns as an expression of love.

The East China Air Traffic Management Bureau said several recent "high-flying" incidents had raised alerts. In May this year, a kite went into the sky above Hongqiao Airport in May, causing more than 10 flights to be delayed.

The kite was eventually driven away by a helicopter.

Releasing lanterns is a traditional way of making wishes in China. It is also a traditional activity to mark the Qixi Festival, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh month in the Chinese lunar calendar - today.

The festival comes from a Chinese myth about the love between a goddess and a man. They were forcibly separated because their love broke the rules and could meet only once a year, on that day.

The festival has regained favor with young people in recent years.


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