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Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year 2017 and 2018

Chinese New Year is one of the largest public holidays in Taiwan.

YearDateDayHoliday
201727 Jan to 1 FebFri to WedChinese New Year
201815 Feb to 20 FebThu to TueChinese New Year

Even though Taiwan is not a part of mainland China, many of the Taiwanese people are from the Han ethnic group and speak Mandarin. They also adhere to many of the cultural customs of their mainland counterparts. While Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival, is a large event in Chinese communities throughout the world, the holiday is quite extravagant in Taiwan. Chinese New Year is a public holiday according to legislation passed by the Taiwanese government.

The Spring Festival, or chunjie (春节), begins on the first day of the first month according to the Chinese lunar calendar. The festival continues until the conclusion of the holiday season on the 15th day of the same month. The Spring Festival is a time for family reunions and festivities. Many travelers from across the world also travel to Taiwan to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Atmosphere

Taiwan has a very unique atmosphere during the Spring Festival. Since most of the Taiwanese population is Chinese, many of the shops in Taiwan close during the Spring Festival. This causes many business districts of Taiwan to be quiet and empty. While commercial areas of Taiwan become calm during the Chinese New Year holiday season, neighborhoods and communities become festive and energized. Large festivals are held in many villages, cities, and towns. Chinese New Year markets are also erected in the centers of communities. These become hubs for social gatherings and commercial transactions during the holiday season. Although many Taiwanese shops close during the Spring Festival, most hotels and restaurants stay open. This is primarily due to the fact that Taiwan experiences a massive influx of travelers during the Chinese New Year celebrations. Most Taiwanese people believe that it would be foolish to pass on the opportunity to earn some quick profits during a peak moment for the tourism industry in Taiwan. Because of this, many tourist attractions also remain open during Spring Festival.

Celebrations

Many Taiwanese people celebrate the Spring Festival with various traditional Chinese customs and traditions. Since Chinese New Year is one of the most vibrant holidays in Taiwan, all celebrations are oriented around having fun with family and friends.

  • Dragon and Lion Dances

    If you’re familiar with Chinese New Year celebrations in mainland China, you probably know that northern China celebrates the New Year with dragon dances and southern China use lion dances. In Taiwan, the dragon of the north and the lion of Canton are both used in Spring Festival celebrations. This is likely due to the fact that the first Chinese people to come to Taiwan were from various areas of China. This caused people to bring their family and regional customs to Taiwan. This represents the fact that Taiwan is a melting pot for Chinese cultures.

  • Feasts

    While many East Asian holidays are not oriented around food, the Chinese New Year feast is one of the most anticipated occasions in Taiwan. Prior to this event, family members, and sometimes friends, will gather in a central location to reunite after a year of work or schooling. Together, Taiwanese families will enjoy a large meal of traditional Chinese foods. Some of the most popular dishes include pork dumplings, rice, steamed fish, chicken, and noodles. This also proves that Taiwan consists of many different Chinese cultures. In mainland China, noodles are almost exclusively consumed in Beijing, Shandong, and other northern areas of China. Rice is the staple in the diets of people in Canton and southern China. While enjoying the feast with their family members, Taiwanese people only speak about positive subjects. Chinese traditions state that speaking about misfortune during the Spring Festival will bring poor luck throughout the upcoming year.

  • Shopping

    In Taiwan, many people purchase gifts for their friends and family members during the Spring Festival. The types of items gifted depends largely on age and significance of the recipient, but gifts are often practical. For example, a mother may gift cooking supplies to her adult daughter. Festival foods and crafts are also often purchased during the Spring Festival. All of the items are available in the many Chinese New Year markets that are established during the festival season.

Festivals

There are many Taiwanese festivals that allow people to celebrate certain aspects of the Spring Festival.

  • In the northern Taiwan’s city of Pingxi, the Sky Lantern Festival is one of the most popular events. During this festival, thousands of Kongming, or flying paper lanterns, are released into the sky to send wishes to the gods. These lanterns are named after Zhuge Liang, a brilliant Shu strategist who fought Cao Cao during the Three States period of China. During his time, Zhuge Liang used the lanterns for military communication.
  • Other major events in Taiwan include the Bombarding Master Handan Festival in Taitung and the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival in Tainan.

Chinese New Year is a public holiday in Taiwan that allows people to reconnect with their families and enjoy a wide range of festivities.