Traditional Chinese holidays are observed in Taiwan due to the country’s Han Chinese population. Among the most prominent examples are:
- Chinese New Year (春節). This is Taiwan’s most significant event, and many stores and restaurants shut for the first three days, making it an inconvenient time to visit. However, the days before the celebration, as well as the fourth to fifteenth days, are perfect for taking in the mood and listening to Chinese New Year music.
- Tomb Sweeping Day (Ching Ming Festival, 清明節). Many Taiwanese would pay their respects at their ancestors’ graves at this time.
- Dragon Boat Festival (端午節). This event commemorates Qu Yuan, a patriotic official from the state of Chu during China’s Warring States era who committed suicide by leaping into a river after Chu was captured by Qin. To keep the fish from devouring his body, people tossed rice dumplings into the river and rowed dragon boats with drums pounded on them to frighten the fish away. Since then, dragon boat racing has taken place on this day, as well as the consumption of rice dumplings.
- Hungry Ghost Festival (Ghost Month, 中元節). This festival lasts for the whole seventh month of the Chinese calendar. During this time, it is thought that the gates of hell open, allowing hungry spirits to freely wander our planet. Many Taiwanese will give food and burn joss paper to pacify the spirits and avoid disaster. To placate these wandering spirits, traditional Chinese acts such as Chinese opera and puppet plays are performed.
- Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon Festival, 中秋節). According to legend, on this day, a lady named Chang E took some heavenly tablets in order to prevent her power-hungry husband from becoming eternal. Fearing for her husband’s death, she fled to the moon, and it is said that the moon shines brightest on this day. This is when numerous lanterns are placed for decoration in different parks and businesses, which is a lovely picture. Mooncakes are also eaten on this day, so now is a good opportunity to sample some.