Tag Archives: Taiwanese folklore

God’s Tour


The collector interviewed the informant for Taiwanese folklores. The informant is the father of the collector. He was born and raised in a town by Kaohsiung, a city in the southern part of Taiwan.


Main piece:

绕境  In Pinyin: rào jìng

Literally: tour around the region

Rao Jing is the practice of a particular god enshrined in one shrine going out for a tour to visit other shrines or temples that enshrine the same god. The most common Rao Jing is Rao Jing of Mazu.

Taiwanese people, just like people living in other coastal regions in Southern China and some parts of Southeast Asia, have strong belief in the folk goddess Mazu. She is the major god who protects fishermen on the sea. There are countless shrines for Mazu in Taiwan.

Exchange activities are held among different shrines. When clergies in the shrines ask for the will of the goddess and it is revealed that she want to go on a tour, they will carry the goddess (the idol) outside to visit other Mazu shrines. The goddess usually visits multiple shrines during one tour.

When a guest god arrives at another shrine, the clergies at the local shrine and the believers living around the shrine prepare welcome banquets. Banquets are for the god and also for the people. The guest god will be worshiped by locals, and all the party accompanying the guest god will be served, including the clergies, the workers such as the bearers of the god’s litter (the chair vehicle) and the believers who follow the god from the original place.


The informant never participates such practice. He has only witnessed it.


Collector’s thoughts:

I witnessed once or twice such practice in my hometown when I was little, but I didn’t know the name of it until the informant (my father) told me this time. It is an interesting practice in folk religious system that facilitates communication between regional communities.

It is also important to note that in the vernacular religious system in Taiwan (or maybe say in Chinese culture), even though different shrines worship the same god, there is a distinction between the individuals of that particular god enshrined in different places.

How to get kids to finish their meal (Taiwanese)

Background information:

My friend introduced me to a piece of folklore about how one can effectively get children to finish their meals. He is of Taiwanese descent, as he was born in San Francisco, California and both of his parents were born in Taipei, Taiwan. His family moved to California since before he was born and have assimilated into the American lifestyle but still stay very true to their Taiwanese roots.


Main piece:

My friend explained to me a saying that is often used in Taiwan to get children to finish their meals and not leave any food on the plate. The saying goes that if one wants a child to finish their meal and eat everything on the plate, they tell the child that if he or she does not finish their meal, they will marry someone with facial blemishes growing up. He said that his interpretation of this as a child was that he always thought of the remaining food pieces on his plate as signifying the multitude of blemishes that would be on the future spouse’s face when he grew up. Therefore, in order not to risk this, he would always quickly finish his food.


Personal thoughts:

I think that this piece of folklore is quite comical because there is no way that there could possibly be any correlation between finishing a plate of food and one’s future partner having acne. I enjoyed that this was a very different saying than what I was used to hearing in the culture that I am immersed in today, as it is refreshing to hear something that I have not heard before. I did find it a bit strange, however, that it would be considered a fear factor to have a partner with acne or facial blemishes because I do not think that this is what one should focus on when considering potential future partners.

Tomb visiting day in Taiwan

Background information:

My friend introduced me to a practice that he and his relatives often perform surrounding the celebration of his ancestors. He is of Taiwanese descent, as he was born in San Francisco, California and both of his parents were born in Taipei, Taiwan. His family moved to California since before he was born and have assimilated into the American lifestyle but still stay very true to their Taiwanese roots and take great pride in their Taiwanese culture.


Main piece:

My friend said that throughout his childhood and growing up, he would always celebrate his ancestors with his relatives. He explained that there is a special day in Taiwan where family members all get together and visit the tombs or graves of their ancestors. When they visit their ancestors, they do everything from pray to bring a large amount of food for both them as well as their ancestors to enjoy. He explained this as not being an event of sadness, but rather a celebration where family members are able to reconnect and bond over their unity in their family and eat traditional Taiwanese foods. He said that his family members come from all over Taiwan and therefore all of his family members travel to the location where their ancestors are buried, when they are celebrating this day, showing the importance that people place on this event and how crucial it is that everyone attends.

When I asked if there was any dish in particular that was popular for this event, he responded that fruit is very common to bring, along with other desserts such as red bean desserts and rice cakes, emphasizing that sweets are often preferred in his experience.


Personal thoughts:

Upon hearing this tradition, I felt that this was a fantastic way to celebrate relatives that have passed away because everyone in the family is joining in on this event, unifying the family a great deal. In addition to the unifying and memorable factors of this celebration, I feel that the great amounts of food definitely make this event even more successful, as I have always experienced that having food at events usually makes them vastly more successful and memorable.