No, they’re not Thai sisters, but they are related. Loy Krathong and Yi Peng are two Thai holidays celebrated simultaneously. Think “July 4th” combined with floating lanterns!
Loy Krathong (literally “floating platform”), occurs on the night of the full moon of the last month of the Thai lunar calendar which was the November full moon this year. Over 700 years old, the festival is celebrated throughout Thailand and marks the end of monsoon season and the rice harvest. Usually made of coconut husks or banana stalks, krathong are decorated and carry candles, coins, and flowers. Thai tradition holds that releasing a krathong to drift downstream symbolizes a new start with old problems floating away.
Yi Peng is observed only in the north of the country (where we are) and in neighboring countries including Laos and Burma. Occurring at the same time and for the same reasons as Loy Krathong, Yi Peng also symbolizes the floating away of problems, but by wind instead of by water. Large red or white lanterns are fitted with a donut-shaped wax candle that, once lit, fills the 4-foot high lantern with hot air until it tugs to be released heavenward. A simple paper and bamboo lantern complete with candle can be bought for about a dollar. Fancier lanterns are equipped with time-release fireworks. After ascending hundreds of feet, these lanterns will drop a series of loud flash bombs or set off a string of firecrackers or release a thick comet’s tail of dazzling sparkles.
It is certainly a spectacular and beautiful sight to see thousands of illuminated lanterns floating through the night sky. Elli did a great job with her little pink camera. To check out a cool video of Li Peng in Chiang Mai, click here.