Sky lanterns have their origin in 3rdcentury China, is it said that they have been invented by Zhuge Liang, a Chinese politician, engineer, writer, military strategist and inventor. His courtesy name was Kongming, which explains the name of the sky lantern: Kongming Lantern.
Kongming found himself trapped during the battle of Pingyang against Sima Yi in the spring of the year 231 and used the sky lanterns for signaling during the battle and to send messages to his allies to ask them for help.
Another explanation for the name Kongming is the fact that the sky lantern resembles the hat worn by Zhuge Liang: that is why it was named after him.
Another name for the lanterns is Khoom Fay.
After their use in wartime they were adopted by the local people and launched during festivities together with traditional fireworks. The idea was that the lanterns carried away troubles and brought good luck and prosperity, the higher the lantern would fly the better it was.
In a later stage lanterns were used by monks, the flame guided them to knowledge. Nowadays Chinese still use sky lanterns during the Chinese New Year for good luck. Khoom Fay Lanterns, the fairies of the Sky.