Festival – Chinese

My informant told me that one of the most important festivals that is celebrated in Taiwan is the Lantern Festival, called “yuan xiao jie” in Chinese. This celebration happens on the fifteenth and last day of the Chinese New Year celebration. It does not fall on the same day as it would in America because the Chinese use the lunar calendar when counting for traditional things like festivals. My informant recently emigrated from Taiwan, and she told me that many festivals are still celebrated in very traditional ways.

One big way that the Chinese celebrate the Lantern Festival is by carrying bright lanterns. She says that when one steps out onto the streets, one can see hundreds of young children carrying bright, colorful lanterns. She says that this tradition began when the high officials of the past would carry beautifully carved lanterns. Now, however, the ones that people carry are often made out of paper that is dyed and hand-decorated.

Another way that Chinese people celebrate this festival is by cooking up a large feast. My informant told me that her family often cooks together. They will eat items such as potato cakes, long noodles in broth, and fish. The noodles must be extra long because they represent life. The point is to eat one long noodle all at once; if the noodle is broken, that is bad luck because you have essentially broken your “life.” The fish represents the rest of the good that a person will have all year; thus, the family must leave a bit of the fish so that for the rest of the year you will have enough fish to eat. For dessert, families will often hand-make “tang yuan,” which is a sticky round ball that is often put in red bean soup or green bean soup.

The Lantern Festival is also the day that couples will go out. Or, parents will often set their older children up with the sons or daughters of their family friends. My informant told me that while parents are usually very hesitant to admit that their children have boyfriends or girlfriends, this is the night that parents are very open. They actually push their children to go out on dates and find a match that night.

My informant says that although Asia is becoming increasingly more westernized, people in her culture still very much enjoy the traditions that have been carried on since many years ago. These festivals often bring family friends and relatives together, and a closeness that is lacking many times throughout the year is brought back even if it is just for one night.