Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in Taiwan! Read on to learn what you should definitely check out and can look forward to.
Not to be confused with the New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year falls around late January or February, this year it’s quite early starting with the Chinese New Year’s Eve on January 23, 2020. Also called the Spring Festival, or Chunjie (春節), it begins on the first day of the first lunar month according to the Chinese lunar calendar and lasts until the 15th of that month.
All businesses closed? No ;D
It is a public holiday and most companies grant their staff several days off work, giving them the time to reunite with family and relatives, which is the main reason for a huge wave of travelers crossing the country, with a huge number of overseas Taiwanese returning to the country too. While many businesses are closed during the holidays, causing the business districts to empty and admittedly being no good time for shopping, the neighborhoods and communities become the center of the festivities. There are festivals held in every village and town on the island, with markets being erected and acting as a social gathering place.
But you don’t have to worry about going hungry, because just like every festival it is also a time to eat delicious food. Most restaurants and hotels will stay open, taking advantage of the influx of potential customers. Following the same line of thought, most tourist attractions remain open, too.
Chinese New Year Celebrations
There is a wide range of traditions and customs to celebrate Chinese New Year with. The first thing that catches the eye are the decorations, mostly in Red and Gold, which represent good fortune and wealth. Coming with a whole treasure trove of symbolism, the decorations picture the new Chinese Zodiac animal (now the year of the rat / mouse is coming) as well as decorative writings. Thanks to the uniqueness of the Chinese language, a lot of items hold double meanings thanks to similar pronunciation (If you are interested in that, read on here). There are a lot of shops next to Homey Hostel who specialize in selling decorations, you can bring some home as a souvenir.
In addition, there are the Dragon or Lion dances. With a huge part of the population migrated from mainland China, the customs came with them. Dragon dances were practiced in the north of the mainland, the lion dances in the south. In Taiwan it is both, being a melting pot for the Chinese culture. The dances are an iconic part of the festivities and often broadcasted into the whole world.
And then there is the food. Eating traditional delicacies together with family and friends is one of the most anticipated things during Chinese New Year. There are pork dumplings, steamed fish, chicken, noodles, rice and more rice. During the New Year meal, the Taiwanese will only speak about positive subjects, which is said to avoid bad luck in the coming year. Also, if you participate in the eating, don’t finish the fish dish and let there be some leftovers. It’s going to bring you good luck!
One of the most popular and well known festivals during the Chinese New Year is the Lantern Festival in Pingxi, close to Taipei. During the celebration, thousands of paper lanterns carry participants wishes to the gods. Also popular are the perhaps most important annual folk festival on the East Coast, the Bombarding Master Festival in Taitung and the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival in Tainan on the West Coast, which is ranked the third largest folk celebration.