Festivals in Taiwan
As Taiwan is dominated by ethnic Chinese, traditional Chinese festivals are celebrated by the Taiwanese. Among the most notable are:
Chinese New Year. This is the most important festival for the Taiwanese and many shops and restaurants close on the first three days so it is not an ideal time to visit. However, the days leading up to the festival as well as the fourth to fifteenth days are ideal for soaking up the atmosphere and listening to Taiwanese New Year songs.
Ching Ming Festival. This is when many Taiwanese would pay respects at their ancestors’ graves.
Dragon Boat Festival. This festival honors Qu Yuan, a patriotic official from the state of Chu during the Warring States period of Chinese history who committed suicide by jumping into a river when Chu was conquered by Qin. To prevent the fishes from eating his body, villagers threw rice dumplings into the river to feed the fishes and rowed dragon boats with drums being beaten on them to scare away the fishes. Since then, dragon boat racing has been carried out on this day and rice dumplings are also eaten. The festival falls on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, and is marked by races of colorful dragon boats at various locations throughout the island.
Hungry Ghost Festival. This festival runs throughout the seventh month of the Chinese calendar. It is believed that the gates of hell open during this period and hungry ghosts are allowed to roam freely into our world. In order to appease the ghosts and prevent misfortune, many Taiwanese will offer food and burn joss paper for them. In addition, traditional Chinese performances such as Chinese opera and puppet shows are held to appease these wandering spirits.
Mid-Autumn Festival. Legend has it that on this day, a woman known as Chang E swallowed some divine pills to prevent her power hungry husband from becoming immortal. Afraid of being killed by her husband, she fled to the moon and it is believed that the moon shines brightest on this day. This is when many lanterns will be put up for decoration in various parks and shops, which is quite a beautiful sight. Mooncakes are also eaten on this day so it would be an ideal time to try some.
Spring Scream – A three day outdoor rock concert in Kenting, held every year. Kenting’s entire area gets swarmed by young people coming to party for 3 days, and Taiwanese TV heavily reports on the latest bikini fashions seen on the spot.
Buddha’s Birthday – Colorful but simple ceremonies are held at Buddhist monasteries that generally consist of washing a statue of the Buddha and a vegetarian feast. It is appropriate to make offerings to the monks and nuns at this time, though it is not mandatory. Lunar Calender 8th day of 4th month.