Taiwan Chinese New Year 2018.
This February I celebrated my first Chinese New Year. Being from the other side of the world, this date used to be that time of year when my Asian colleagues had a couple of days off. Now that I’m here I came to realize how big and important this celebration is for all Taiwanese.
To start, all the Christmas decorations are still on and lighten every night. A month ago, all the bakeries started selling the special buns and candies of this season. Three weeks ago I started noticing big piles of non-traditional trash in my neighborhood corner. Why? You will find the answer later.
What is the Chinese New Year?
The Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year is the biggest celebration in most Asian countries. Based on the moon cycles, it celebrates the start of the New Year surrounded by good food and family. This is the best time to honor family and ancestors.
Each year is ruled by an animal, this known as the Chinese zodiac. There are twelve and each one rules the personality of the people born during its year as well each one represents a special gift or value for the year to come.
History of Chinese New Year.
No one knows for sure, but this festivity is as old as Emperor Yao and Shun, -2300bC. The legend tells that, a mythical beast called “Nian” (Year in Mandarin), an ox/lion animal, used to go on the last night of the year to harm people, animals, and property. Then, the people discovered that this beast was afraid of the color red, loud noises, and fire. Therefore, to protect themselves, people posted red decorations in their houses, launched fireworks and hanged lanterns all over the town, so the beast finally stopped showing around.
Besides this legend, there are a few others details I learned during this past week, all of them to attract good luck and prosperity for the household, and your parents.
Chinese New Year: Taiwan Traditions.
Deep cleaning: as I mentioned before, two to three weeks prior New Year’s Eve, people start deep cleaning their houses. By cleaning the dust and removing the old things away, Taiwanese people are getting ready to make space for the new luck provided by the New Year. All the cleaning must be done prior to the new year’s day; otherwise, you might be sweeping the new luck that just arrived. Also, you should not sweep or take out the trash during the first five days. Is believed that the gods will come down to inspect your house, so you better have everything spotless so they will grant you a favor.
Dihua Street Spring Festival Market: this is the place where you can buy all that’s needed for your New Year feast. Every single traditional ingredient and delicacies to celebrate are here. This street is in Dadaocheng area, so you will also enjoy some beautiful buildings filled with history.
Fireworks: remember that fire and noise scared Nian away, these days is also set to send away other bad spirits. These are held during the last hours of the last day.
Is all about family: all restaurants and stores are closed during these days, everyone is set to spend some family time, first with your father’s family and then with your mother’s family. Of course, expect a big feast; there is a lot of good food enough for everyone. Also, all family gathers around to play dices and mahjong, the traditional games, and gamble.
New red clothes: red is the color of the season, everyone uses different items of red clothing, especially underwear, in order to attract good luck. Many stores will offer good discounts, so is a good time to shop.
Red envelopes: all the kids receive red envelopes with some cash. If you are the only child, you’ll get all the attention from your aunts, uncles, and grandparents. When the children grow up and start working, they will return the favor to their parents and grandparents as a sign of respect and appreciation.
Red scrolls: these are red decorations hanging on the front door, they contained wise or good luck messages that the family would like to receive during the year. These stay hanging all year long.
Chinese New Year Food.
This is the most important part of the whole festivity, gather your family and eat together is the best way to start the New Year. These are the most important dishes and its meaning:
- Whole fish: the word fish in Mandarin sounds like the word abundance. You should not eat its entirety or at all, if you do, may spend all your savings prior the year-end.
- Noodles: the longer the better, they represent longevity. Don´t cut them while eating so you’ll not be resting years of your life.
- Dumplings: the steam dumplings resemble the moon, and the fried dumplings resemble the gold ingots, either way, they represent prosperity and a perfect and united family.
Is an awesome time to be around, everyone is happy and joyful. I love how is all about family, and how the younger generation is still holding to these traditions. To finish the festivities, we are expecting for the Lantern Festival, will be showing it here soon.