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Chinese New Year

The Spring Festival, of Chinese New Year, is celebrated from the first day to the fifth day of the first lunar month of the Chinese calendar. People refer to this festival as "passing the year," which means shooing out the old and welcoming in the new; it is considered the most important Chinese holiday of the year. There are a number of related customs and traditions that go along with the festival. Normally, on the 23rd or 24th day of the last month, people sacrifice to the Hearth God and send him off on his annual journey to Heaven; this signals the start of the Chinese New Year holidays.

On the Chinese New Year's Eve, families complete their spring cleaning signifying the sweeping away of misfortunes of the previous year. After the spring cleaning, a New Year's cake is made (the cake is a symbol of "reaching new heights"). The 29th day of the final lunar month of the Chinese calendar is when families stick up spring couplets and New Year prints on their doors and windows to bring good luck. On the 30th day of the last month of the Chinese calendar, families gather together for a New Year's meal, called the "Gathering around the Stove." Adults then give the younger members of the family, particularly children, red envelopes with cash inside. This monetary gift is thought to bring peace and good fortune to the recipients. Then there is the "Keeping of the Year," which is seeing the old year out and the New Year in by staying up on New Year's Eve. This starts after the family has finished eating the New Year's Eve dinner. Once the clock strikes midnight, firecrackers are exploded to welcome the arrival of the New Year.

Chinese New Year also includes the practice of going around to friends and relatives to offer New Year greetings on the 1st day of the Chinese New Year, going to the home of the wife's family on the 2nd, welcoming the God of Wealth on the 4th, and reopening business on the 5th.


Lantern Festival

The Lantern festival is also known as the "little-New Year." Aside from the usual worship of the gods, the occasion involves guessing lantern riddles, eating rice-flour dumplings, and releasing lanterns into the sky in Pingxi Township. The Yanshui Beehive Rocket Festival in Tainan County is another major event during the Lantern Festival. Colorful and lanterns of all sizes and shapes have always been main attractions of the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated with a grand national festival and major festival in Taipei and Kaohsiung.

The Taipei Lantern Festival is held for several days at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, reaching its peak on the day of the Lantern Festival itself. There is a gigantic lantern depicting this year's Chinese zodiac animal, which is the centerpiece of the festival. There are also many traditional lanterns, electromechanical lantern displays, and large themed lantern floats designed by different companies.

The Kaohsiung Lantern Festival is held along the Love River. During the festival period, both sides of the river as well as Wufu Rd., Heping Rd., Guangzhou St., and other thoroughfares have lantern exhibitions. There are also musical performances; helping to out the whole city is in a festive mood.


Dragon Boat Festival

Together with the Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival is one of Taiwan's three major annual holidays. Because of its origins and customs, it is closely related to the remembrance of Quyuan, a poet who lived during the Warring States Period; that is why, from ancient times, people have also referred to the Dragon Boat Festival as the" Poet's Festival."

At the time of the Dragon Boat Festival, the most common customs are holding dragon boat races and eating glutinous rice dumplings called zongzi. Legend has it that when the poet Quyuan jumped to his death into the Miluo River, the local people rowed their boats to and from in search of him; later, this slowly evolved into the dragon boat races. Today, dragon boat races are a popular activity famous both in Taiwan and abroad; most local areas of the country hold their own races. Each year, there is an international dragon boat race with teams from Taiwan and abroad competing.

The practice of making zongzi came from the people who were to save Quyuan from the fate of being eaten by the fish. The people stuffed rice into bamboo sections and threw them into the river to feed the fish; today, the dumplings are wrapped in leaves and eaten by people.


Zhongyuan Festival

The seventh month of the Chinese calendar is the Chinese Ghost Month. Traditionally, it starts from dawn on the first day, when the gates of the netherworld open, and ends on the 29th day of the month, when the gates close. People Holt rituals to petition for salvation from disasters and misfortune during the celebration, which reaches a peak on the 15th day.

Zhongyuan General Salvation Ceremonies

In folk tradition, on the day of Zhongyuan Festival every household has to prepare meat, fruits, fresh flowers, and other sacrificial items; they then offer these to the hungry ghosts at a temple, or on a temporary altar table set up in front of their homes. They also ask monks to say prayers for their deceased loved ones as well as those lost souls who have no living descendants left on earth. This is known as Zhongyuan Pudu, or General Salvation.

The ceremonies take place in temple and on streets. On the afternoon of the Pudu, local residents prepare offerings and carry them to the main altar at a temple to join in the ceremonies there. For the street festivities, local residents prepare chicken, duck, and fish for offerings in front of their homes in a ceremony known as doorway worship.

Launching of the Water Lanterns

The launching of water lanterns is a longstanding custom. Its most important purpose is to help light the way for the lost souls in the water, call the souls to come on land to enjoy the offerings, and pray for the early reincarnation of these souls. It is also said that the further a lanterns floats, the better the fortune that the clan it represents will enjoy in the coming year.

Grappling with the Ghosts

Grappling with the Ghosts is a pole-climbing competitions held during the Ghost Month. In Taiwan today, it is carried out only in Toucheng, Yilan County and Hengchun, Pingtung County. Of these two locales, Toucheng, has the larger celebration. In the early days, people migrating to Yilan from Guangdong and Fujian provinces were beset by natural disasters, accidents, and diseases and many of them died. Because they became afraid that nobody was going to be left to make offerings after they were gone, and that their souls would have nowhere to go, every year during this festival they held pole-climbing ceremonies to remember those who had passed away. Since Toucheng was the first city in the Yilan area to be developed, residents of its eight major districts jointly hold the general salvation ceremony. They also chose the last day of the month-the day when the gates of the netherworld close-to hold a major pole-climbing competition.


Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival is also called the Moon Festival, and it is a holiday with a most romantic atmosphere. Because this holiday occurs during the autumn, at a time when harvest season is over, people in earlier days chose this day to make offerings and thank the gods for the bounty of the year. This became a time for families to get together. The most familiar myth concerning this festival is that of Chang-er flying to the moon after secretly drinking her husband's elixir of life. Aside from this, there are also tales of the Jade Rabbit and "Wu chopping down the cinnamon tree."

Because most of the activities held during this holiday are related to the moon, it has come to be known as moon day. Important activities at this time include the eating of moon cakes, which symbolize unity and togetherness; strolling under the full moon; and eating pomelos, since the Chinese term for pomelo sounds like "care and protection." As for the barbecues that are held on this holiday, the custom is a recent one in which families and friends get together and enjoy a meal.

* Data Source by Tourism BUREAU, 更多旅遊訊息在 *
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