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Festivals, History & Culture

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Chinese New Year in Taiwan part two: Gift giving, etiquette and more

Last week  we talked about the logistics of experiencing Chinese New Year in Taiwan (Part one : Chinese New Year in Taiwan : The Six Days of Chinese New Year). This week, we’ll get down to the business of giving gifts, visiting etiquette and stuff like that. It might get confusing, so stick with us! The Red Envelope Perhaps no single item is as associated with Chinese New Year as the red envelope or hóng bǎo. Unlike the closest analogous holiday season to Chinese New Year in the west (December’s Christmas / Hanukkah / Kwanzaa period, or, if you’re not a fan of any of those, Seinfeld’s Festivus holiday) in which gifts between family members are usually store bought (or hand-made) items, in Taiwan the standard gift is money served in a perfumed red envelope. Generally, the traditional hóng bǎo flow is from old to young; youth are the beneficiaries of…

Christmas in Taiwan

Though Christmas isn’t an official holiday in Taiwan, folks around these parts are generally up for any excuse to engage in festivities so it hardly comes as a surprise that this most festive of western holidays has caught on somewhat on our predominantly Buddhist / Taoist / Tribal island nation. Signs of holiday festivities abound, from piped-in Christmas carols in most supermarkets (usually starting with typical Taiwanese decorum in early December, as opposed to the day after Halloween as is increasingly the case in the USA) to holiday decorations hung casually in coffee shop windows. (On a related note, we were particularly impressed with both the efficiency and cultural inclusivity demonstrated by this particular display recently spotted in the window of the Louisa Coffee Shop across from the Tzu Chi Buddhist hospital, combining expertly and efficiently iconography from both Halloween and Christmas.) While Christmas isn’t technically celebrated in Taiwan (it’s…

Halloween in Taiwan

Halloween isn’t a traditional Taiwanese holiday. So why do general stores around the island stock up on costumes, candy, and items that clearly have little use outside of Halloween (fake severed limbs, rubber eyeballs and more) in October? The answer? Because Kids demand it! Which is kind of funny, because 25 years ago the only kids in Taiwan who really knew about Halloween were those who’d spent time in western countries or had expat English teachers who didn’t see any harm in getting their cram-school classes jacked up on sugar every October 31st. These days, most kids in Taiwan look forward to October 31st, though they call it Wànshèngjié (萬聖節 – or million spirits festival). Wànshèngjié in Taiwan isn’t quite the cultural phenomenon of Halloween in America, but it is a big enough deal to make hastily assembled displays complete with tons of candy and a few rubber eyeballs a…

Gong Xi Fa Cai ! How to Spend Chinese New Year in Taiwan?

 CNY holidays start from Jan 27th to Feb 1st, and 2017 is the year of rooster in chinese lunar calendar. During this time, there’re going to be many different kind of chinese traditional activities around Taiwan. If you happened to be in Taiwan these days, here are tips for you to be more like locals to enojoy Chinese New Year holiday! 1.Year-end Clean Up Before Chinese New Year, Taiwanese will spend days for year-end clean up. It means we get rid off all the bad luck during the past year and welcome a fresh new year. 2.New Year’s Shopping If you’re in Taiwan, do not miss markets for new year’s shopping in Dadaocheng! Not just food, but also candies and new year decoration. For foreigners, they are the perfect places for you to enjoy CNY atmosphere! 3.Gambling Taiwanese are crazy about gambling at CNY. Pokers, dice, and mahjong are the most common choices. Some…