Festivities & Traditions
Chinese New Year is the largest and most important annual festival celebrated by Chinese and Chinese descendants around the world. Also known as the Spring Festival, Chinese Lunar New Year and Lunar New Year, the Chinese New Year is based on the Chinese lunar calendar, begins on the first day of the first month and ends with Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month.
Most of the shops and tourist attractions in Taiwan bring down their shutters during the first or second day of the Chinese New Year, while hotels and restaurants will be open and busy on the Chinese New Year’s Eve, being the home to family dinners.
People would spend their days on family visits, and join the myriad of events and celebrations across Taiwan cities during the Chinese New Year period. As most of the shops will be closed during some days of the Chinese New Year period, Chinese New Year markets are great places in Taiwan to prepare for your Chinese New Year feast and prepare presents to your families and friends.
There are a number of splendid festivities that one may join while visiting Taiwan during the Chinese New Year period, including Dragon & Lion Dances, vivid scenes at temples, fireworks, thousands of lanterns at the Lantern Festivals held at various Taiwan cities, Bombarding Master Handan Festival in Taitung, Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival in Tainan and many others that you would not want to miss.
Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is an annual event of northern Taiwan held in Pingxi of New Taipei City every year during the Chinese New Year period close to the Lantern Festival. Sky Lanterns, also known as Kongming Lantern are flying paper lanterns traditionally found in some Asian cultures. It was invented by Kongming during three kingdoms period by Zhu Ke-Liang (aka Kongming) in order to pass military information. They are constructed from oiled rice paper on a bamboo made frame, and contain a small candle or fuel cell composed of a waxy flammable material. After lit, the flame heats the air inside the lantern, same concept of a hot air balloon which raises the lantern into the sky. People nowadays usually write their wishes on the sky lanterns because it is believed as the lantern fly into the sky; it is a way to pass on your wishes to gods above.
Bombarding Master Handan Festival is a special ceremony in Taitung, where a chosen man will perform in the role of the Master Han Dan, a god of wealth. The chosen man will wear nothing but a red short pant, hold one bamboo fan to protect his face, stand on a sedan chair, and be carried around by four devotees. Since people believed this god cannot bear the cold weather, they will throw firecrackers at the chosen one and to pray for wealth.
Another distinctive festivity is the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival. The festival is one of the best-known celebrations in Taiwan. On the day of the Lantern Festival (the 15th day of January according to Lunar Calendar), people would visit Yanshui Wu Temple in Tainan City to follow the sedan chair of the divinity with firecrackers aside.
The Lantern Festival is held annually on the 15th day of the first lunar month, marking the grand finale of the Lunar New Year season. Fireworks, giant lanterns and hand held torches are seen all over the festival to welcome the New Year in a spirit of peace, prosperity and joy.