Zuoquan: alive with local charm
On Feb. 7-8, we visited Zuoquan County, in eastern central Shanxi Province, to experience the traditional Lantern Festival customs in the local community. With comparatively fewer inhabitants (around 130,000 people compared to Yuci District's 430,000), Zuoquan is a relatively small locale, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in character.
The entire county center in Zuoquan was lit up in colorful lanterns, but the decoration didn't stop with public facilities -- we found that individual homes and residential buildings were also decorated wall-to-wall. In the evening as the sun went down, the entire town lit up, reminding me of boisterous Christmas decorations in some cities in the U.S., but on a grander scale.
In that regard, Zuoquan has one of the largest Lantern Festival displays of any small town in China -- in the town's central square, elaborate lighted displays portrayed mythic tales from Chinese literature, such as the classic fables "Journey to the West" and "The Eight Immortals Cross the Sea." Local officials told us that the Lantern Festival displays had been jointly sponsored by the county government as well as national and local businesses, particularly in the coal industry, and some local residents also participated as joint sponsors.