Hanging Fire: Taiwan’s Lantern Festival
Most non-taiwanese (or waigouren if your Pedal Taiwan guide wants to get all local about it!) have seen the quintessential hanging Chinese lantern before….but have you seen hundreds of thousands all at once at one of east asia’s largest light shows??
From China town to the local takeaway, surely even people who haven’t watch Mulan to the point where you know it off by heart (it’s a great film guys) will have seen the famous red hanging lantern so associated with the orient. However, as always in Taiwan, they want to take it one step further.
Each year in March, an are of Taipei is transformed by these colourful fireballs to become a night time extravaganza, in order to celebrate the centuries old Lantern Festival.
Held to welcome in the return of spring, celebrations occur in Koahsuing, Pingxi and Taitung, but its in Taipei where the grandest display can be seen.
Alongside the thousands of lamps, watchers can also witness the bombing of Master Han Dan. Today thought of as the God of wealth, Master Han Dan is also thought to have once been a living man who went by the name of Zhao Gong-ming.
When Master Han Dan makes his annual tour of the mortal world, people line the streets to throw firecrackers at him near his temple. However, despite what you might expect, this ‘bombing’ is seen as a way to welcome his arrival!! The most common explanation for this is that Han Dan was once the god of vandalism, and that he gains power through the noise and the chaos. In fact, according to legend, the louder the explosion, the more welcome he feels!
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