7 Amazing To-Dos for Lantern Festival 2017

Lantern Festival, the 15th day of the 1st month in the lunar calendar, is another frantically celebrated festival after Chinese New Year. In Chinese, Lantern Festival is called 元宵節 (Pinyin – yuán xiāo jiē) on which the whole family should gather together to eat “yuanxiao”, a kind of sweet rice-flour dumpling.

Thanks to the rich cultural diversity in Taiwan, Lantern Festival has evolved into a day on which many fun and exciting activities are going on in different places on this small island.

1 Fo Guang Shan Lantern Festival (佛光山平安燈會) Kaohsiung
2 Yanshui Beehive Firework (鹽水蜂炮) Tainan
3 Yuejing Riverbank Lantern Festival (月津港燈節) Tainan
4 Luermen Firework Festival (鹿耳門國際煙火節) Tainan
5 Bombarding the Handan (台東炸寒單爺) Taidong
6 Pinxi Sky Lantern Festival (平溪天燈節) Taipei
7 Local Lantern Exhibitions (台灣燈會) Everywhere

It is the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. Right at the entrance, the solemn Buddha sculpture calm you down to peaceful emotions. An important ceremony is held here to help people seek for the inner and outer peace while celebrating this meaningful festival. The 2-week long celebration starts on the 1st day of Chinese New Year and ends with a sensational closing ceremony on Lantern Festival.

It has been dubbed as one of 10 World’s Best Parties 2015 by the Australian travel magzine – Get Lost. For it is a dangerously exciting activity to take part in. Around 200 Beehive Rocket Launchers, 1 million rockets, are served for the brave warriors’ challenge. The blind firecrackers can go any direction to bombard you. If you would like to join this special party, the strict dress code must be followed.

 

 


If you are looking for more quiet event, Yuejing in Tainan is a good choice. Taking a night stroll along the serene riverbank, you can see many exquisitely crafted lanterns by the local artists in Tainan. This sparkling exhibition opens for 1 month from 7 days before the Chinese New Year to 7 days after Lantern Festival.

Luermen Mazu Temple is said to be the first Mazu Temple in Taiwan. Every year many international firework teams gather here to light up the sky with splendid fireworks. For the high performance of this firework show, this has become an important event in the southern Taiwan. Please note this firework show falls normally on the closest weekend to Lantern Festival.

 


Handan is one of the 5 important Gods of Wealth. Legend has it that he chose to stay in Taidong and offered to march through the whole Taidong city to bring wealth to the citizens on Lantern Festival. Throughout the march, people throw firewcrackers to bombard Handan, acted by real human, to make him warm because he doesn’t like to feel cold.

 


[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gJH22WNqyM&w=640&h=266]

Pinxi Sky Latern Festival is recommend as a must-go event before you die by CNN, Discovery and Fodor’s. Sky lantern was traditionally a way for farmers to signal a safe message. Today, you can lit a sky lantern anytime in Pinxi, but only on Lantern Festival can you see thousands of sky lantern fly up together.

Everywhere

Local Lantern Exhibitions – 台灣燈會

Many of the exciting and sensational events above are not easy to reach for foreigners. Don’t panic! You still have good ways to celebrate by going to the nearest lantern exhibition in your city. Most cities have their own lantern exhibitions and the main national lantern exhibition is held in different cities every year.

–  Yunlin Lantern Festival

2017.02.11 – 2017.02.19

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– Kaohsiung Lantern Festival

2017.01.30 – 2017.02.12

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– Taipei Lantern Festival

2017.02.04 – 2017.02.12

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– Nantou Lantern Festival

2017.01.21 – 2017.02.19

2017 南投燈會.jpg


– Tainan Lantern Street

2017.01.22 – 2017.02.12

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No matter how you plan to celebrate Lantern Festival in Taiwan, don’t forget to eat a bowl of yuanxiao with your good friends either in the night market or at street vendors to mark a sweet and smooth start for the new year.

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Traditions and Taboos during Chinese New Years

As a foreigner, it might be bewildering to see all the complicated “dos and don’ts” in Chinese New Year. Here is a good help!

chinese-near-year

 

Chinese New Year, or say Spring Festival, is the most important festival in Chinese culture countries, like Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, China and Singapore. If you happen to be there or even stay with a Chinese family at that time, this is a great help for you to “correctly” celebrate this festival and avoid many taboos.

New Year Eve
(除夕)
chú xī
1st
CNY Day
(初一)
chū yī
2nd
CNY Day
(初二)
chū èr
3rd
CNY Day
(初三)
chū sān
4th
CNY Day
(初四)
chū sì
5th
CNY Day
(初五)
chū wǔ
Family Reunion Dinner
(年夜飯)
nián yè fàn
Visit temples
(拜拜)
bài bài
Married Daughters Back
(回娘家)
huí niáng jiā
Rats’ Wedding
(老鼠娶親)
lǎo shǔ qǔ qīn
Welcome Gods home
(接神)
jiē shén
Worship God of Fortune
(迎財神)
yíng cái shén
Staying Up Late
(守歲)
shǒu suì
Grand Family Reunion Go to bed early Dump trash out
No washing hair
No taking nap
No porridge or meat as breakfast
No traveling faraway No waking up late
No laundry
No cooking
No sweeping
No dumping the trash
No using scissors and needles
No lending or borrowing money
No quarreling and cursing
No visiting hospital
No scolding children
No unlucky words
No cutting hair

As the legend said, an ancient monster called Nian (年, nián), which means “year” literally, used to eat humans, espeacially the kids, on the New Year Eve. Then a wise old man found ways to expel Nian by making loud noises, sparkling light and red decorations. Those ways of protection led to how Chinese New Year is celebrated nowadays.

Preparation


Chinese New Year (CNY) marks the beginning of a new year which everyone for sure wish it to be a good one. So it is very important to make a good preparation for it, inclusive of buying new clothes, new shoes, having a haircut, washing cars and scooters, thoroughly cleaning the house. Those tasks could take up 2-3 weeks of time. Then you can start enjoy the joyful Chinese New Year.

New Year’s Eve – Reunion Dinner


The first CNY event is the Family Reunion Dinner (年夜飯, pinyin: nián yè fàn). Everyone in the family, no matter how far away home he or she lives, must come back for this dinner. It is even the only family gathering for the whole year for some families. Every member of the family starts the CNY off right with new clothes. From head to toe, all clothes and accessories worn on CNY’s days should be brand new. After the Family Reunion Dinner, all the entertainments are out to light up the “whole” night. Staying up late on the New Year Eve is a custom called Shou-shui (守歲, shǒu suì), which is believed to increase the longevity of life. Young teens have also got a good excuse of bringing longevity for their parents by playing video games, cards, board games or chatting all night long. Many opt to wear lucky red underwear especially when battling on the Mahjong table.

1st CNY Day – Temple Visit


1st CNY day is the good timing to visit temples to venerate Gods for good luck throughout the coming year. A popular activity in Taiwan is to compete to be the first one to plant the incense in the incense burner, which they believe to be the most blessed if they make it. Temples are the best recommended places for you to enjoy the atmosphere on this day.

Taboos on 1st CNY Day:

  • Avoid eating porridge and keeping vegetarian diet in the 1st CNY day’s morning are believed to bringing the good luck for the coming year.
  • No washing your hair or you may wash away the good luck by offending the God of Water.

2nd CNY Day – Married Daughters Back


The 2nd CNY day (回娘家, pinyin: huí niáng jiā) is for the married daughters to visit their birth parents and relatives. Traditionally, married women are not allowed to go back to their birth families frequently. This day is also the rare noisy and boisterous day in many quiet village because all the married daughters return home with their own families.

 

3rd CNY Day – Rats’ Wedding


3rd CNY day is called “Rats’ Wedding” (老鼠娶親, pinyin: lǎo shǔ qǔ qīn) that all the rats leave some rice and salt everywhere in the house, symbolizing abundant food for the year, when holding the wedding. People are suggested not to go out to travel or visit friend and should sleep early in order not to disturb the wedding of house rats. Although this tradition sounds like a fairy tale, it is indeed helpful because everyone must be very tired so far after preparing and running the Chinese New Year.

Taboos on 3rd CNY Day:

  • No traveling faraway and should sleep early for the rats to bring the salt and rice, symbols of wealth, home.

4th CNY Day – Welcome Gods Home


4th CNY day is for welcoming Gods home on this day after those Gods bring the year evaluation of the family back to heaven 5 days before the New Year’s Eve and enjoy their vacation until the 4 CNY day. People lit fireworks and prepare food, like candies and fruit, to make the atmosphere happy for ushering Gods back home.

Taboos on 4th CNY Day:

  • No going to bed late.

5th CNY Day – God of Wealth’s Birthday


This day is the God of Wealth’s birthday and also the first day of working for the most people. Most stores, restaurants and shops worships the God of Wealth and lit firecrackers to mark the brilliant first business day. This day is also the to clear out all the trash of the last 4 CNY days, which is believed as dumping the poverty out.

General Taboos


  • No having a haircut = signs of cutting the longevity of life
  • No more cleaning or sweeping = signs of sweeping out the good fortune
  • No quarreling, swearing and cursing = signs of ruining the lucky atmosphere
  • No scolding children = crying children scare away good luck
  • No unluck words (Esp, death or poverty) = signs of bringing bad luck
  • No visiting hospital = avoid the atmosphere of illness
  • No using sharp objects like scissors and needles = avoid dangerousness
  • Any debts owed to anybody should be paid off before Chinese New Year. Besides, lending or borrowing money should also be avoided. Debts during Chinese New Year is inauspicious to both the debtors and creditors.
  • No cooking during the CNY because the god of fire is also out for celebrating this festival. It is a favorable omen to eat the leftovers of the reunion dinner on the New Year’s Eve as breakfast, which forebodes that people always have more than they need.

【Event】Autumn Cycling in Mei-Nong Town

Enjoy the most comfortable season of Taiwan
by cycling in the beautiful Hakka town, Mei-Nong
PM 8:30 – 19:00
2015.11.28 (Sat)
Mei-Nong, Kaohsiung
Serene Mei-Nong Lake is one of symbols of this beautiful rural town.
Life tempo here is comfortably slow and peaceful.

 Many traditional crafts are still reserved very well in Mei-Nong.

Mei-Nong is noted for Hakka cuisines.


Autumn cycling in Mei-Nong is a feast for body and soul.

Nov. 28 is also the annual Mei-nong Radish Festival, making this trip unique.

08:30~09:00 Meet up at NCKU Kuan-fu Entrance (Map)
09:00~10:30 Move to Mei-nong town
10:30~11:30 Pimp your bike (Bike rental in Mei-nong)
11:30~13:00 Hakka Cuisine Lunch
13:00~15:30 Biking through Mei-nong
15:30~16:00 Move to Qishan Old Street
16:00~18:00 Eating and Drinking at Qishan
18:00~19:00 Back to NCKU Kuan-fu Entrance

What to do on Chinese Valentine’s Day?

The Chinese Valentine’s Day (qī xī 七夕) falls on August 20 2015. It is the 7th day of the 7th lunar month so it is also called Chinese Double Seven Festival. It is kind of like the Chinese Version of Romeo and Juliet. Niulang (niú láng 牛郎) and Zhinu ( zhī niú 織女) were forced to separate due to their different identities, which Zhinu was the 7th daughter of the Heaven Emperor and Niulang was just a poor orphaned cowherd.

There are many versions of this love story. Here is the most popular version.
http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/77a.htm

It is also a popular festival for young people. For the married couple and people in love, this day is celebrated like the western Valentine’s Day. For singles, today is a good timing to pray for love luck by paying a visit to the Temple of Matchmaker (yuè xià lǎo rén 月下老人). He has the power to decide the love destiny of people so knowing the SOP when worshiping there is very important.

 

What to do?

1. Prepare fruit or flowers, which are numbered even like 2 apples or 6 roses. Normally, you could also buy the stuff from the vendors there.

2. Report your name, identity and address to the Matchmaker and then speak up your mind about your ideal type.

3. Ask for the divine answers by throwing the wooden pieces (Taiwanese: 擲筊, literally “throwing poe”). If you get 3 divine answers in a roll, it means you get the promise from the Matchmaker.

4. Put you donation, normally NTD$100, before you leave.

 

Where to go?

Here list the top 5 temples to worship the Matchmaker in Taiwan. Not only on the Chinese Valentine’s Day, those temples are almost full of love seekers everyday!

 1.Taipei Xia-Hia City God Temple (台北霞海城隍廟)

Due to the high number of residents and tourists in Taipei, this one is the most visited and popular in Taiwan. Even the visitors from Japan and Korea love to come here.

Address: No.61, Sec. 1, Dihua St., Datong Dist., Taipei City
Traffic: Bus 250 or 304 from Taipei Train Station and get off at Yianpin Station (延平一站(南京))
Tel:(02) 2558-0346
Website: http://tpecitygod.org/

 

2. Tainan Grand Matsu Temple (台南大天后宮)

It has lots of things to talk about this temple, but here we just focus on the role of its Matchmaker. Tainan Grand Matsu Temple has many gods, and Matchmaker is one of them. You will get a red line there and then put it in your pocket. When someday you find that the red line disappears, it is the time that your love comes.

Address: No. 18, Ln. 22, Sec. 2, Yongfu Rd., West Central Dist., Tainan
Traffic: Bus 3, 5, 88, 99 from Tainan Train Station and get off get at Fort Provintia (赤崁樓)
Tel: (06) 2211178
Website: http://www.tainanmazu.org.tw/

 

3. Tainan Temple of the Martial God (台南武廟)

Though the temple of Matchmaker just occupied a little corner of the whole temple here, it is famous for successful matching of up to 300 couples every year. You have many ways to speak up your mind here, writing a postcard, buying a wish bottle and even writing a letter direct to the Matchmaker.

Address: No. 229, Ln. 22, Sec. 2, Yongfu Rd., West Central Dist., Tainan
Traffic: Bus 3, 5, 88, 99 from Tainan Train Station and get off get at Fort Provintia (赤崁樓)
Tel: (06) 2202390

 

4. Tainan Chongqing Temple (台南重慶寺)

The Matchmaker here is noted for its ability to mediate love problems. There is a divine vinegar barrel, which helps to resolve love problems after people stir the vinegar in it.

 

Address: No. 2, Ln. 5, Zhongzheng Rd., West Central Dist., Tainan
Traffic: Bus 88, 99 from Tainan Train Station and get off get at Museum of Taiwan Literature (台南文學館)
Tel: (06) 2202390

 

5. Taipei Wanhua Longshan Temple (台北萬華龍山寺)

This temple has a long history of 300 years and famous for all the gods in it. The Matchmaker is seated at the left rare site. Due to its huge crowd everyday, every love seeker is asked to take only one red line after worshiping the Matchmaker.

Address: No. 211, Guangzhou St., Wanhua Dist., Taipei
Traffic: 5 mins walking northward from MRT Longshan Temple Station
Tel: (02) 23025162
Website: http://www.lungshan.org.tw/

Dos and Don’ts during Ghost Month in Taiwan

Taiwan is the only country in the world that still reserves and frantically celebrates the ancient Chinese tradition of Ghost Month (guǐ yuè 鬼月), the 7th month of the lunar calendar. In China, the complete Atheism had eliminated this tradition. However, other Chinese speaking countries, Hong Kong, Macau or Malaysia, only have the worshiping event on the 15th of this month, that is Ghost Festival (yú lán jiē 盂蘭節)

 If you are in Taiwan, you have good chances to fully experience the whole month of different atmosphere on the street, especially at night. It’d be a very unique experience trying either to avoid some taboos or to take part in some sensational festivals. Here are some tips and taboos to keep in mind when you happen to be in Taiwan this month. (This year: 2015.8.14 – 2015.9.12)

 

Don’ts:

During ghost month, the word “ghost” (guǐ 鬼) is seldom heard, especially at night. Taiwanese tend to call the ghosts as good brothers (hǎo xiōng dì 好兄弟) in this month. There exist many taboos at this time, like surgery, buying cars, throwing a wedding, buying house and moving house. As a foreigner, you are suggested to pay attention to the 5 taboos.

1. Don’t go swimming:

Though water activities are very alluring in summer, you might notice that fewer people go swimming and even for beach activities this month. Ghost Month is believed to be a specific month for the drowned ghosts to catch victims for a chance to rebirth.

2. Don’t just turn your head around if someone pats you on the street:

It’s been said that there are two flames on people’s two shoulders, to protect the “Qi” (qì  氣) of our bodies. The two flames might be easily put off if you just turn your head back when being called or patting on the shoulders. The loss of the two flames makes you sick for no reasons and vulnerable to any fluctuations in your surroundings.

3. Don’t pick up coins and money on the street:

Generally speaking, you’d better avoid picking anything on the street during Ghost Month. If you pick up something that doesn’t belong to you, you might be tailed home by good brothers.

4. Don’t kill insects in your house:

It is believed that people might be visited by their ancestors as the form of insects during Ghost Month. These insects might be some special breeds, rather than mosquitoes or flies. Although it is just a belief, it is a good suggestion to avoid killing insects at this time because some rare insects are very poisonous.

5. Don’t sit in the front row of outdoor shows:

It might be exciting to see many outdoor shows after dark at this time, most of which are Gezaixi shows (gē zǎi xì 歌仔戲) and Puppet shows (bù dài xì 布袋戲). Please note that the first row is reserved for VIP good brothers. It is rude to offend their privilege.

 

Dos:




Albeit with some taboos, Ghost Months is frantically celebrated everywhere in Taiwan. Here list 3 major festivals for foreigners to follow.

1. Great Worship on Ghost Festival (zhōng yuán jiē 中元節)


The 15th day of Ghost Month is traditionally called Ghost Festival. It’s might be one of the most expected festivals for kids in Taiwan because most families would buy tons of candies, drinks, cookies and traditional food to worship the “good brothers”. Now it is very clear what the kids are yearning for.

It’s very easy to take part in this event cause it is almost everywhere, especially in famous temples. If you are looking for a really big event, you might not miss the following one.

Huwei Great Worship (hǔ wěi zhōng yuán jì 虎尾中元祭)
Date: the 15th day of Ghost Month
Address: Everywhere in Huwei town
Traffic:Get off at the Donan train station and transfer with Bus 7102 to Huwei

 

2. Keelung Lantern Festival (jī lóng zhōng yuán jì 雞籠中元祭)

Keelung Lantern Festival


When it comes to Ghost Month, Keelung is the city that you cannot miss. It has a welcoming event on the 1st day of Ghost Month, the opening of Ghost Gate. Later, there hold lantern parades and firework shows all the way until the 15th day. The high tide falls on the 15th day, or say Ghost Festival, for the event of Water Lantern Night. People set many water lanterns on fire to the sea, which give directions to the drowned ghosts and worship them for good luck.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlE9FxDwovI&w=320&h=266]

3. Grappling with the Ghost (qiǎng gū 搶孤)

Grappling with the Ghost, to put straight, is a pole climbing competition. It is an event to entertain the hungry ghosts. Competitors are to resemble hungry ghosts struggling for food on the top of 12m high poles covered in oil. To win the 1st prize, competitors must be very swift, skillful and powerful, usually teamed of 3-6 people. It is kind of Taiwan’s version of American Ninja Warrior.

It is a very unique event, which you can only see it in Taiwan. Two towns are noted for this event.

Touchen, Yilan
Date: the 29th day of Ghost Month
Address: 頭城開成寺 ( No.15, Jixiang Rd. Toucheng Township, Yilan County )
Traffic:Get off at the Tochen train station.
Tel:03-9777430

Hengchun, Pingtng
Date: the 15th day of Ghost Month
Address: 恆春天后宮 ( No.126, Fude Rd., Hengchun Township, Pingtung County )
Traffic:Get off at Hengchun Bus Station (from Kaohsiung Bus Station)
Tel:08-8662306

Nankunshen Temple (Michelin 3 Star Attraction)

Tainan / Nankunshen Temple (南鯤鯓代天府 nán kūn shēn dài tiān fǔ )
(3 Michelin Stars Attraction)

Website:http://www.nkstemple.org.tw/
Address:No. 976, Kunjiang, Beimen Dist., Tainan City 727, Taiwan
Hours:08:00 ~ 17:00
Telephone:06-786-3711
Tickets: 50 NTD for Grand Kun Garden (大鯤園 dà kūn yuán)
Traffic: No direct bus available. Better by cars or scooters.

 

[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d3664.8173101038633!2d120.14313500000002!3d23.286087000000002!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x346c2a8da35d1393%3A0x4f1539c1ffa4f379!2z5Y2X6a-k6a-T5Luj5aSp5bqc!5e0!3m2!1szh-TW!2stw!4v1440989420893&w=400&h=300]

Magnificent Entrance

At the first sight of Nankunshen Temple, the spectacular Chinese entrance makes you quick understand why it is crown as a Michelin 3 Stars attraction. Grandiose buildings and spacious garden landscaping have numerous subtle ornaments and delicate handcrafting. It definitely a must-see temple in Taiwan.

Golden Palace

 
Nankunshen Temple took almost half a century to build and used 2,200 KG gold (USD$ 15 Millions worthy) for all the golden decorations and sculptures. The most significant golden building here is the  6.6 m high and 2.0 m wide golden monument, which weighs 405 KG of whole pure gold.
 
It is actually 2 temples together to compose the Nankunshen Temple or called Nankunshen Daitian Temple. Wufu Qiansui (五府千歲 wǔ fǔ qiān suì) and Wanshan Ye (萬善爺 wàn shàn yé ) are said to fight over the land when they both favored this location and both wanted build a temple here. Goddess of Mercy suggested they both build a temple here to help local people and so they did.

Annual Festival

Annual ritual festival falls on April 26 and 27 (lunar calendar) when the hundreds of thousands people gathers together. One of the most unique traditions is the “tangi” (Taiwanese, 乩童), it’s sort of like psychic. It is believed with spiritual training, the tangis are capable of allowing the god to posses their body protecting them from physical harm. So demonstrations of the “shielding from harm” often take place live during festivals, where the tangis physically pierce and cut themselves when the god possesses his body.

 

 

Grand Kun Garden (大鯤園 dà kūn yuán)

Another attraction here is the Grand Kun Garden of 6 hectares land. It took 20 years to build this garden. The architects were to resemble the royal garden of Ming Dynasty. Taking a walk in this garden is very relaxing. All the architectures and garden landscaping can bring you back 350 years earlier.

 

Old fashion bungalows on the stone stack create kind of scene of martial art movie. Visitors can also take a sip of tea there in the bungalows and imagine the scene of old time royals and heroes gathering at the same table.