Category Archives: Game

Taiwanese Festival: Lunar New Year

Nationality: Taiwanese
Primary Language: Taiwanese, Mandarin
Age: 46
Occupation: Branch Manager
Residence: Taipei, Taiwan
Performance Date: 19 April 2024

Tags: Lunar, New year, firecrackers, red, family, Asia


Lunar New Year (also called Chinese New Year) is one of, if not the, most famous festivals/traditions in all of Asia. Starting at the turn of the Lunar Calendar (around February in the Gregorian calendar), families from all around Asia come together to enjoy good food, share fortune with each other, and have good times. Various activities before and after the main celebration include cleaning the house to let the good fortune inside, putting scrolls and characters on doors and walls, decorating various places with red, and lighting fireworks. The latter two are in relation to the mythological story of Lunar New Year, about a fierce beast named Nian who would come and terrorize the local people before they warded him off with firecrackers and the color red. Now, elders give the young red envelopes filled with money (usually after a short give-receive ritual of sorts), eat foods like dumplings in the shape of money and other such cuisine that invoke good fortune, and have an overall wonderful time with each other.


C was born and raised in Taiwan, and has traveled the world various times due to her work and studies. She regularly participates in Taiwanese and Asian festivities with friends and family.


I put “Taiwanese Festival” in the title, but really, any sort of Western Asian country would do due to how widespread this particular festival is. Virtually every single action one takes and food one eats can be linked to a specific belief or superstition, making it one of the busiest times of the year for Asians due to how much work gets put into everything. It truly is a showing of how various different people from different backgrounds can come together and share in one traditional time.

Makahiki games

Text: On the island of Molokai, Hawaii, a series of games called the Makahiki games are a yearly tradition. During the harvest season, which is late spring, there are a series of tournaments with age brackets including men and women. People from all over Hawaii are sent to Molokai to participate in these games. These games include spear throwing, a form of wrestling, and many other competitive things.

Context: The informant’s relationship to this piece is that she participated in it one year. Specifically, her school flew her from Oahu to Molokai to play for one of the games as a 13 year old. She found out about this because in Middle school, her school had a PE section where they played the Makahiki games. The informant interprets these games as a way to celebrate and indulge in her roots in relation to the history and how the games came about. 

Interpretation: I interpret these games as a way to connect with history and just be patriotic. Hawaiian culture is a very strong and uniting culture, so I think these games are another way to bring people together.

Driving Through Tunnel Ritual


Whenever the informant drives through a tunnel, she holds her breath and honks her horn for the duration of the drive until exiting the tunnel.


The informant has known this ritual her entire life, growing up in Northern California, where there are many hills and mountains to drive through. Her family has always done it, and she has continued the tradition of this ritual to her friends all over California. The ritual feels like such second nature to the informant that she instinctively holds her breath and honks her horn in any tunnel. In different regions of California, some drivers alongside her do not honk their horns at all, and are alarmed at her doing it. However, where she is from, the tunnels are always filled with honking horns by default, and it is never questioned. 


Upon doing more research about this particular ritual, it is clear that this is just one variation of many similar rituals. To some in different regions of California, the honking of the car horn is never involved, and the ritual only involves holding one’s breath. To others, the ritual also includes saying the first fruit that you can think of as soon as you leave the tunnel. 

This variation in such a common ritual, whether it is regional or just specific to each person and unrelated to geographical location, shows how far folklore can spread when its practitioners all have a shared experience. In this example, the shared experience is driving in tunnels through hills or underground. Whatever the variation of the tunnel ritual is, its existence and popularity shows the discomfort that many drivers must have with driving through tunnels. After all, why else would such rituals be so popular? 

It is very common for rituals to arise out of fear and superstition, and the popularity of this tunnel ritual is a perfect example of our tendency to create rituals that make us feel like we have more control in situations where we feel uncomfortable or unsafe.


Context: My informant is a direct family member

My informant says that Tinikling is “like a dance in the Philippines, you do with bamboo sticks”. She describes it as a traditional dance where two people are supposed to hold very long bamboo sticks on the opposite ends and there are two dancers coordinating together in the middle. It can be a very difficult dance, and it is a lot like a game. But it is still a performance.

My informant recalls that a lot of Filipinos kids (mostly girls) might learn this in school, or even outside of school because of the game aspect. And she notes that this tradition along with many Filipino traditions may stem from Spanish culture due to colonization.

It can be difficult to do it correctly, and you could easily trip if you and your partner make a mistake. But a lot of Filipinos have fun with this traditional dance.

She does remember this dance from her early years in school where it is thought so that it can be performed in a yearly school performance or presentation. She also interprets this dance as a fun part of Filipino culture. Because it is not strict to just performance but because it can be done by anyone even without it being something that has to be presented in a certain way.


Tinikling is certainly a folk tradition and folk dance. The dance is also performed at festivals.

Tinikling seems to be a part of Filipino culture for a very long time. And although it is a part of the history of colonization that the Philippines has endured, the tradition has seemed to be fully embraced and seen as something endearing and fun. It has been removed from the possible pain that the colonization has caused. Because the dance is flexible in its form, it can be done “formally” and traditionally through performances and yearly performances done at schools but it is also done at the homes in the Philippines or even right by the streets.

As my informant mentions, this dance is taught at many Filipino schools, it is well-known by many. The folk dance seems to be carried by pride, fun and even nostalgia. If this dance was not taught to someone in the Philippines, someone who does know could gladly teach it.

Matzah Hunt


During Passover, the informant’s grandparents would hide two pieces of matzo (one for him, the other for his sister) that they would then search for. Sometimes, this would involve a game of “hot or cold”. If they found the pieces of matzo, they would get a bit of money as well.


The informant is not Jewish, but rather considers themself a mix of various ethnicity, citing Jewish as one, but mentioning that he was mostly Christian and Scottish, with a bit of Native American ancestry.


When looking further into the matzah hunt, I found out that there’s quite a bit of history and symbolism behind it. The bread is part of a group of three matzo, and the one that’s hidden is broken off from the middle one of the three pieces. It is then wrapped in a napkin and hidden somewhere in the house. In terms of symbolic importance, it’s referred to as either representing the sacrifice that was once offered at the temple in Jerusalem, which speaks to the historic and cultural importance of the activity. Alternatively, it can be seen as a way of representing how one must set aside a portion of what they own for the less fortunate. With such an important symbolic represented here, it’s interesting to see it applied to a game for children to play. Judging by the informant’s recollection of the event, I can’t imagine the player of this activity has much awareness of its importance. As a result, they just see it as a game they can earn something from if they win. Perhaps this can be seen as the way folk practices apply in different ways to different people. While the children see a fun game, the adults see a piece of symbolism that represents them as a people, and said children do not learn such symbolism until they are much older.