A millenia-old tradition
The use of decorative lanterns to brighten and illuminate Chinese festivities is said to date back to the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). The tradtion of stringing up lanterns on the 15th day of the first lunar month probably originated during the Sui dynasty (581-618). It was during the Tang dynasty (618-907) that common people began using lanterns to mark the end of the New Year's celebration – a practice that had previously been an Imperial prerogative.
The tradition grew and spread under the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, with glittering lanterns produced in all sorts of shapes.
The tradition lives on today in China, at the start of the lunar year and during the Moon Festival, celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month.
Making the lanterns
One year between Montréal and Shanghai
Every year, the Botanical Garden presents The Magic of Lanterns on a different theme. How do we go about producing this ever-popular event?
Fall and winter
The theme is decided upon and the technical drawings are produced here, in Montréal. Precise drawings are made for each lantern, indicating its dimensions and colours and how it is to be assembled.
Artisans in the Shanghai region make each lantern by hand, following the technical specifications sent from Montréal.
The lanterns are shipped to Montréal.
July and August
The lanterns arrive in Montréal! It takes a team of electricians, carpenters, painters and welders over a month to build the stands and hangers, install the wiring and set up the lanterns, which will be displayed until November 1.
September and October
The lanterns light up the Chinese Garden and the eyes of thousands of visitors who come to enjoy the magical spectacle. This year, the 21st edition of The Magic of Lanterns at the Botanical Garden will present over 700 traditional lanterns and 200 thematic ones.
A green technology for the Magic of Lanterns
A simple, safe and highly energy-efficient solution
The Montréal Botanical Garden proudly uses the TFT LED Contactless System from a Quebec company, Transfotec International division de EMD Technologies to light its lanterns.
How it works
The TFT LED Contactless System has only two parts: the master power supply and the LED light modules. Each light module contains from 2 to 12 diodes that light up with no direct physical electrical contact. The modules simply slide onto a standard multistrand wire, and the electrical energy in the wire is transmitted by induction to a magnetic coil in each Contactless LED module.
Once the modules are slid onto the wire, they are fixed inside each lantern, distributing the light more efficiently along its frame and allowing visitors to better appreciate all the details and splendours of these masterpieces created by Chinese craftspeople.
The benefits of using the TFT LED Contactless System for The Magic of Lanterns
- Nearly 100% of the energy is converted to light
- Very low voltage alternating current (20,000 Hz)
- A substantial reduction in energy use (nearly 10 times less)
- The diodes cannot overheat, so there is no fire hazard
- Each diode has a 100,000-hour lifetime
- The system is reliable even in poor weather
- If one diode fails, it has no impact on the others in the circuit
- Easy to install, reliable and very safe