Lantern Festival in Taiwan – 台湾の元宵節(ランタン祭り)

Hey it’s Brian from KizugawaCity again.



This time I would like to introduce the day that closes the Lunar New Year vacation in Taiwan – the Lantern Festival. Lantern Festival, or Yuanxiao Festival, is on the day of the first full moon after Lunar New Year. And just like its name, it is celebrated with many decorated lanterns. Cities put on exquisite lantern and light exhibitions and hold riddle contests. It is a fun night out with family and friends.



In Taiwan, there are many regional traditions and events, some exciting and some you may find odd. In NewTaipeiCity, many write their wishes on sky lanterns, which are hot air balloons made with paper, and release them into the sky. The night sky is filled with thousands of floating sky lanterns. It is a beautiful and peaceful sight to see.



In the south, in the City of Tainan, the Lantern Festival celebration called “Yen Sui Feng Pao” paints quite a different picture. According to local legend, lighting fireworks on the night of Lantern Festival can take away bad fortune of the year. The fireworks fly in every direction like bees, that is why the event is called Feng Pao, “bee bombs”. Thousands of participants gear up and gather to be hit with the fireworks.



Similarly, in the city of Taitung in the east, there is “Bombing of Han Dan.” Locals believe that throwing firecrackers at a Han Dan, a local deity represented by half-naked men in red underpants, brings good fortune. Personally, I would not want to be chosen as a representative.



On the day of Lantern Festival, people eat yuanxiao (sometimes called tangyuan if with fillings). Yuanxiao are glutinous rice balls cooked in soup. They can be sweet with sugar or red bean paste, or salted with meat fillings. My personal favorite is tangyuan filled with sesame paste. They are eaten hot. I recommend a bowl of hot yuanxiao on cold winter nights like Lantern Festival.



There is just one month of the cold winter left. Hang in there, everyone!



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