Tuesday, February 22, 2011

week 23 the Lantern Festival

The Chinese New Year celebrations in Taiwan have just recently come to a close.
For 15 days, all have been celebrating the New Year. 
For 15 days, the firecrackers have been going off!

Offering table placed in front of the office building adjacent to my office building
During the Chinese New Year, after the holidays have been savored and people are ready to go back to work... Each business inquires as to the best time to reopen their business, in Chinese tradition. For example (although my firm is less strict, because it has a more international and not strictly Chinese background), on my first day back to work after the New Year we began business between the hours of 9am and 11am. This was the supposed window of perfect timing for my firm, and our office manager asked that we please not turn on the lights, A/C, or unlock the front doors until that time - even if we arrived earlier. In addition to opening at the most opportune time, many companies set off firecrackers and provide offerings to the gods. I call them firecrackers because for this specific use, they simply use the loud firecrackers for the noise - not much to see but a cloud of smoke. I don't know how the prophets giving this advice calculate their perfect timings, but I would love to know whose business near my apartment was really so fortuitous by opening Saturday morning at 5am?! Yes, yes they did. 

I'm still becoming familiar with these Chinese New Year traditions... you can read more about it here:

Decorative lanterns hanging round the Sun-Yat-Sen Memorial Hall
Each uniquely hand-painted.
At the close of the 15 day celebration, the Chinese celebrate the Lantern Festival. In a big city like Taipei, there are many lanterns in many places, but specifically, the Sun-Yat-Sen Memorial Hall has a huge display that is lit each evening and open to the public. It is frequently on my way home (depending on where I am headed to and fro), so one night this weekend on my way home, I decided to check it out... before I missed my chance!

Rows and rows of lantern displays - Imagine a football field full of them...
It had never occurred to me that lanterns might take a creative shape - but that is exactly what you see at the Lantern Festival. Unique lighting displays of all shapes and sizes, submitted by various groups/individuals for the show. Sort of like something you might see at the Texas State Fair... except quieter. So much more peaceful, and lovely to stroll through on a drizzly evening under the moonlight. As you can imagine, there were plenty of couples there going for a romantic evening walk...

There were a LOT of rabbit themed lanterns for the Year of the Rabbit.
Line of displays along one side of the Memorial Hall.
I was unexpectedly pleased by the silent evening stroll on my own - I hadn't even originally intended to walk through. I had just finished a cheerful dinner with friends nearby, and the was passing the lantern displays on my way home. Bold, festive, and quiet. Some artful, some playful... by the time I got home I was ready to sleep and relax :)


  1. Show us more pictures! Amazing and interesting. hope you are keeping a diary besides this one. you will want to have one to pass down to your children when you are old! :)

  2. First of all ~ I haven't really been keeping a diary other than this one, but someone suggested a great idea, that I should just print this all and have it bound in a book (like a diary).

    Secondly - does this mean you have some diaries you've been hanging onto for me? ;)