(KTSF by Jo Wan)
Even though Lunar New Year celebrations last for only several days, starting on New Year’s Eve, the festival itself is actually a few weeks long. It begins on the twenty-fourth day of the twelfth lunar month. This is the day, it is believed, when various gods ascend to heaven to pay their respect and report on household affairs to the Jade Emperor. According to tradition, households busily honor these gods by burning ritualistic paper money to provide for their traveling expenses. Another ritual is to make sweet rice cake for the Kitchen God to ensure that he’ll give a favorable report to the Jade Emperor.
Lunar New Year is a time for family reunion and celebration. There are always certain foods that must be on the table to make sure the coming year is more prosperous. For instance: Fish (yu) a homonym for “surplus,” and Fa Gao which is a type of rice cake and leaf mustard, a homonym for longevity.
During the celebration, family members hand out hong bao, or “lucky money” in red envelopes, to elders and children. They also try to stay up all night to welcome the New Year, as it has long been believed that by doing so, their parents would live a longer life.
Many Taiwanese also go to temple on New Years to pray for a safe, fortunate and prosperous year. The second day of the Lunar New Year Festival is the day that married daughters return to their parents’ home.
However, in modern society, some Lunar New Year’s traditions has faded away in Taiwan. For example, most people choose to eat at a restaurant on New Year’s Eve or even take a trip during the long holiday.
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