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Lantern Festival in Montreal

In China the Lantern Festival begins on the 15th day of the first lunar month, or about the end of Spring Festival which is also known as the Chinese New Year. It is easy to understand how lanterns might be a part of a celebration welcoming the lengthening days.

However, there is also a Mid-Autumn Festival, which is also sometimes called a Lantern Festival. In Montreal September and October are the months when over 1000 elaborate lanterns made in Shanghai are put in place to delight visitors to the Jardin Botanique Chinese Garden. We did not see them lit up in the evening, (the garden stays open until 9 pm for the event) but even during the day the lanterns are great fun as we followed them through the different sections of the Chinese garden.

No Chinese event would be complete without a dragon.

Chinese lanterns are often bright and gaudy and great fun. A different note is struck in the Japanese Garden. Here are shades of green and the music of falling water. The mood is more of quiet meditation than of gaiety and celebration. There might be a lesson here about including space for different moods in our own gardens. I’m going to have to give that more thought.

The lotus is an important plant in both Chinese and Japanese cultures, symbolic of beauty and purity rising out of the mud. It is a familiar motif in their art, and delicious in the kitchen. During our stay in China one of our favorite dishes was slices of pickled lotus root.

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