Not so magical lanterns

Judith's Squirrels
2 min readOct 19, 2022

A week or so, I was happy to be reminded of an ongoing Fall event I use to go to with my mom. I did ask her if she wanted to come, but at her age, it would have been too much. The event starts at dawn, and the drive from her place is to long, and tiring to ne done in the dark. Still, I wanted to go with St since he never had the chance to go before.

We met up by his work, and I got him to discover wonderful food from a latino restaurant he didn’t know. It’s funny because that place has been around for about 20 years, and he’s been walking by it for 8 years not paying attention to it. After stuffing our faces with fried pork, we made it to the event.

I was excited, because I always loved this evening event of Montreal’s botanical gardens. For decades now, the central them of this activity was the Chinese lanterns; it’s literally what started it all. But this year, I guess the organizers decided to do something else. Sometimes, it’s better to leave a classic untouched.

I fully support the reconciliation efforts Canadians are making to restore some dignity, and raise awareness on native cultures. If I was properly informed of the event, and that it was clearly seperatly advertised, I would have loved it. What bothers me is the way they piggy ride the original event’s fame to promote a new activity.

I went in all excited, and bright eyed in search for the magical Chinese lanterns that brought me wonderment year after year. Though the organizers had something else in mind, which led for a bid disappointment. St too thought this would be about the Chinese lanterns, and he also was unimpressed; not a good experience for a first timer.

What used to be a festival of vibrant lights, and colours turned into a “watch your steps,” and “turn on your phone light” thing. Walking around in mud, in the dark surrounded by cheap lights, and projectors while hearing random sounds, and crossing the occasional myst machine is kot my version of “The night of lights.”

This long disorienting walk led us to the Chinese gardens where we found some lanterns, not much traditional, with another multimedia installation. I know Gen X started that trend, and they’re really found of it, but I wanted to get transported back to Asia not to some tacky Disney Land copy.

I get that cultural appropriation is bad, though passed events organizers collaborated with Asian artists to create Oriental fairytales. I guess the new administration is to busy trying to look cool, and trendy to care for the experience of their visitors. I’m glad my mom chose not to come. I don’t think I will go in the future. After two years being locked down, going outdoors for an event was a nice treat. I just wish they could have preserved the soul of the concept. Oh well, it is what it is.

Gratitude Journal :

I’m grateful for St’s goofing around.



Judith's Squirrels

Completed diary of a student entering university at forty. Just writing for me. Kaizenka, ex-nomade, foodie, and health nerd.