Early spring is a special time around the world. The flowers start to bloom; the trees regain their leaves; and most of all, the cold winter weather has said goodbye. Spring brings about the first month of the Chinese lunisolar calendar and the Chinese New Years Celebrations. The New Years Celebrations end with the Spring Lantern Festivals. One of the largest festivals is the Taiwan Lantern Festival.
What is the Lantern Festival?
The Lantern Festival is traditionally the last celebrations of the Chinese New Year. The festivals can be dated back to the Han Dynasty (206 BCE). There are many legends that tell of the founding of the festival. Most are related to the celebration of good health and good fortune.
My favorite legend is of a crane from heave that was killed by some villagers. After the crane’s death, the Jade Emperor planned to set fire to the village. The villagers saved their village by hanging red lanterns, building bonfires and setting off firecrackers to fool the emperor’s troops. The villagers would celebrate every year after that with lanterns and fireworks.
When is the Lantern Festival?
The Lantern Festival takes place on 15th day of 正月 (Zhēngyuè). Zhēngyuè is the first month of the Chinese lunisolar calendar. The date varies by year but the festival always happens between February and March.
The 2018 festivals will start March 2, 2018. The 2019 festival will February 19, 2019.
Yuan Xiao Jie aka The Taiwan Lantern Festival
Yuan Xiao Jie, the 2018 Taiwan Lantern Festival, will run for 10 days from March 2 to March 11.
This year event is going to be one for the history book. It is going to be “smart” event with a focus on technology as well as the elements of air, water, and land.
The event will be using an app called Chiayi iTour. Chiayi iTour comes in Mandarin, English, and Japanese. It is the go-to guide for the 2018 Taiwan Lantern Festival. The app allows the user to scan a business’s sign and learn about their sales and marketing. During the actual festival, the app will provide up to date information about the festival such as parking and traffic. It will have an interactive map of the lantern zones and provide food recommendations.
The festival will have three lantern zones. The first is the water zone which will have a water and light show at the National Palace Museum. The show will also feature dance performances.
The land zone will explore the history of Chiayi and have a market with arts and crafts from local artists. The air zone will have high-tech lanterns made with new materials and techniques. The lanterns will also feature innovative technology. This year’s main lantern will honor the Year of the Dog.
Ping Xi Lantern Festival
The small town of Ping Xi is well known for the thousands of sky lanterns launched during the Lantern Festivals. The event is often one of the most impressive lantern festivals in the world. Thousands of visitors from around the world come to launch their hopes, dreams, and prayers upwards into the night sky via a sky lantern.
Yanshuei (Yanshui) Beehive Fireworks Festival
The Yanshuei Beehive Festival is the third largest folk festival in the world. It is a religious event where thousands of firecrackers are set off at the same time. It often looks like bees flying out of their hives.
The festival dates back to an 1880’s cholera epidemic. The religious leaders started setting off fireworks to attempt to appease the god of war and help end the epidemic. The festival takes place as fireworks are carried around the city until it comes to a gun deck in the streets where the fuse is lit and the thousands of firecrackers go off with a BOOM.
Bombing of Master Han Dan
Master Han Dan is the god of wealth and is the guardian of the celestial treasury. Every year he takes an inspection tour of the world. On the day of the festival, he appears wearing a headscarf, mask and a pair of red shorts. He tours the community and receives gifts of fresh fruit and flowers. At the end of the festival, he holds a tree branch as a fusillade of firecrackers is launched at him to gain his blessings.
Are you going to the 2018 Tawain Lantern Festival?
Disclaimer – This post is sponsored by Taiwan Tourism Bureau.