February 14, 2022
Taiwan is celebrating the Lantern Festival.
“The Lantern Festival is celebrated annually on the 15th day of the first lunar month to mark the grand finale of the Chinese New Year celebrations. It is also the very first full moon day of the New Year, symbolizing the coming of the spring. People usually celebrate this festival by enjoying family dinner together, eating Yuanxiao (glutinous rice dumpling), carrying paper lanterns, and solving the riddles on the lanterns. ” (https://www.travelking.com.tw/eng/tourguide/taiwanfestivals/lantern.asp)
In NTNU we actually have riddles, not on a lantern but on a noticeboard (see above). An example of a riddle: “What can you catch but not throw?” “A cold”. The riddles remind me of the teasers that one finds in a cracker at Christmas.
There is an internationally famous Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival, held at Shifen, not Pingxi. I didn’t go at the Lantern Festival, but here’s a clip:
In my research I found one odd festival:
“Bombing Lord Han Dan is a special ceremony in Taitung, which a chosen man performs in the role of Master Han Dan-a god of wealth, and gets thrown by firecrackers. During the event, the chosen man wears nothing but a pair of red short pants, holds one bamboo fan to protect his face, stands on a sedan chair, and being carried around by four devotees. Firecrackers are to be thrown at the chosen one as it is believed that Lord Han Dan cannot bear the cold weather. The firecrackers are to keep him warm as well as to pray for wealth and prosperities.” (https://www.travelking.com.tw/eng/tourguide/taiwanfestivals/lantern.asp)
I wanted to view the Lantern Festival in Taipei. Jun-pei agreed to meet me; here she is at Jiantan MRT Station. Some images were taken by Jun-pei, distinguished by clarity – her camera is far better than mine.
The weather was clear, but cold. Jun-pei saw a sign that said the air temperature was 13 degrees.
The Lantern Festival lined both sides of a busy street, running for over a kilometer.
We saw the main square. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays there is a show here; but on a Monday the square is empty, except for the UFO-like vehicle above.
You can see a video of one of these shows, taken only a few days prior to our visit.
Shilin Night Market was just off the busy street. Guess which camera took the above photo.
There were many alleyways though the night market.
The above is a clip of the Shilin Night Market.
In the middle of the night market there is the Cixian Temple.
According to the plaque on the temple wall, the Cixian Temple was built in 1796. It is dedicated to Mazu. There is a lot more information in this Temple Trail webpage.
The alleyway goes right through the temple.
The two photographs above and below give an indication of the gorgeous interior of the temple.
Finally, Jun-pei took me to an underground hall in a goods lift. Inside the long hall were mini restaurants. We chose one and ordered food at random.
The table above is lined with suggested dishes; there is no tablecloth. Naturally, the food was excellent. The stinky tofu was especially delicious; the fried tofu was crisp and quite smelly.