Chinese New Year celebrations or what is also known as spring festival is the biggest Chinese festival across the world. Irrespective of where one is, in mainland or the person is an expatriate, this will be of monumental importance to him.
Chinese New Year is a fifteen day celebration, the fifteenth day culminating into Lantern festival. It is that festival which sees a huge migration of Chinese professionals across the world visiting their family and relatives at this time of the year.
The fifteen days are marked by adherence to numerous traditions, rituals based out of superstitions, reunions with families, lavish food spreads and lot of bonhomie.
- New Year Celebration in Taiwan
Taiwan too is no different when it comes to the Chinese New Year celebrations. In Taiwan, the Chinese New Year is celebrated from the first to the fifth day of the first lunar month according to Chinese calendar. It is often known as the Passing of the year, as it signifies bidding adieu to the old and welcoming the New Year with lot of hope. Being the most important amongst all Taiwanese festivals, educational institutes remain closed for two weeks, while the businesses remain closed for four to five days.
- Traditions followed
On the Chinese New Year Eve, families complete the cleaning of their houses as it is considered to be extremely inauspicious to clean the house during the first couple of days, as it is believed that all the good luck and prosperity will be swiped away. Dirt is swept inwards the house and later carried out lest prosperity and good luck too goes away.
The cleaning of the house on the New Year’s Eve signifies the leaving behind of the previous year’s misfortunes, trials and tribulations. Families, gather together either at a restaurant or at an elder’s house for a special New Year dinner consisting of fish, chicken, pork, dumplings and sweetmeats. The younger people are handed over Hang Bao, or Chinese red envelopes containing money post the Reunion dinner. In fact lot of companies and businesses also give out the red envelopes to their employees during this period. Fish is eaten mandatorily as the word fish is homonymous with the Chinese word ‘surpluses’. Dumplings are eaten as they are known to resemble the Chinese gold ingots. Similarly chicken and luck are also pronounced in the same manner.
People in Taiwan follow the practice of visiting relatives and friends to extend wishes for fortune and prosperity on the first day, will visit the wife’s family is slated for the second day, the fourth day will be reserved for welcoming the Wealth God at home and will reopen business on the fifth day. Families stay up together after midnight and light firecrackers to drive away the evil spirits and welcome the New Year. The entire Taiwan is enveloped in a red haze during the New Year celebrations. Myriad red lanterns, gifts, wall hangings and decorations adorn all houses shops and other commercial establishments.
- New Year celebration in Taiwan –
In Taiwan, the shops are closed for the first two or three days, and then they are back to business. Taiwan hosts myriad of celebrations during the New Year period. As the shops and markets tend to remain closed for the first two days, it is always a good idea to stock up on necessities for the New Year Reunion dinner and gifts for the New Year from the New Year markets. Those interested to be a part of the traditional celebrations can definitely head towards the Dihua Street in Taipei.
Try travelling by MRT or the Mass Rapid Transportation in Taipei or the THSR, the Taiwan High Speed Rail to get to places in a sea of merrymakers. Booking a hotel well in advance is also advised as this is the time when people will be visiting their families from far flung places.
Amongst The spectacular festivities that Taiwan holds during this auspicious period are the Dragon and the Lion dances. Skilled dancers along with colorful dragon and lion structures perform these dances on the roads. The beautiful decorations at the temples like the Longshan Temple, The City Temple etc.; the scintillating and noisy fireworks, thousands of glowing lanterns at the Lantern festival are all sights to be savored. Certain festivals that one should not miss during this period in Taiwan are the Bombarding Master Handan Festival in the Taitung County or the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival in Tainan to name a few. One can also try the Maoli Dragon Festival or the Beitou local festival.
- New Year Festivals in Taiwan
- Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival
- New Year Festivals in Taiwan
Close to the Chinese New Year, Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is held in Pingxi in the northern Taiwan. Sky lanterns, also known as the Kongming Lanterns adorn the sky during this period. The sky lanterns are flying paper lanterns which were invented in Kongming by Zhu Ke-Liang also known as Kongmig to pass on military information. These are made from oiled rice paper and a bamboo frame containing small candles or some wax flammable material to be lightened. These days people write their wishes on these lanterns as they believe that by flying high it will reach heavenwards and pass their wishes to the Gods above.
- The Bombarding Master Handan Festival
The Bombarding Master Handan Festival is a very special festival held in Taitung. In this festival, a particular chosen man performs the role of the God of Wealth – the Master Han Dan. It an interesting ceremony, this chosen man, wearing only a short red pant will be carried around by four devotees. He will have a bamboo to cover his face, as the devotees knowing that the God cannot bear cold weather will keep throwing fire crackers at him and will pray for wealth and prosperity.
- The Beehive Fireworks Festival
The Beehive Fireworks Festival is another unique and traditional festival held in the Tainan City. People visit the Yanshui Wu temple on the day of the Lantern Festival and follow the sedan car of the Divinity bursting fire crackers.
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