The 5 Most Exciting Taiwanese Festivals
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is the most important festival celebrated in Taiwan every year. Starting on the first day of the new lunar month and lasting for 15 days, the new year is celebrated in innumerable ways. Huge feasts, massive street parades, traditional Chinese music, dragon dancing take place every day along with family gatherings and the exchange of red envelopes with a monetary gift inside. Chinese people refer to this festival as the “passing of the year” and welcome the new year with high hopes of good fortunes for themselves and their families.
Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival
Celebrated annually on the 15th day of the first lunar month the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is Taiwan’s most famous festival which marks the grand finale of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Thousands of people from all across the world make their way to the beautiful village of Pingxi to release handcrafted fire lanterns inscribed with messages to the gods into the night sky. This festival is a sight to behold and can’t be missed if you’re in Taiwan on one of our tours at the same time.
Dragon Boat Festival
The Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the rescue attempt of Chu Yuan, a patriotic poet, who drowned of the fifth day of the fifth month in 277BC. When the rescue attempt failed, the people had to throw bamboo stuffed with rice into the water so the fish would not eat his body. Today, this has evolved into the custom of eating tzungtzu, a rice dumpling filled with delicious paste wrapped in bamboo leaves. As the name suggests, there are also exciting dragon boat races and the consumption of large amounts of rice wine!
On the first day of the seventh lunar month, the gates of Hell open wide releasing the spirits kept inside into the living world for a month of respite. But fear not, Taiwanese people accommodate these spirits by preparing lavish sacrifices, burning paper money, and performing epic Taiwanese operas. In Keelung, there is a spectacular three-day ceremony for the spirits involving a procession, the release of water lanterns, and Taoist priests performing the Ghost god dance.
The mid-Autumn festival, also known as Moon Festival, falls in the middle of the eighth month when the moon is at its fullest. A bright, full moon is considered a symbol of happiness and is celebrated mainly through family reunions and the eating of fluffy moon cakes which symbolise unity and togetherness. The myth of Chang-E flying to the moon after secretly drinking her husband’s elixir of life is often told during this festival and dragon dances, floating lanterns and firework displays are also common.