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FROM READERS: Taiwanese Lunar New Year celebration

Sunday, February 5, 2012 | 4:39 p.m. CST; updated 5:57 p.m. CST, Thursday, February 9, 2012
Professor Chang, the adviser of the Taiwanese Student Association, wishes everyone a happy and fruitful new year and gave the association Chinese history books to encourage us to brave the future by bearing the past.

Lynn Chiu is the secretary of the Taiwanese Student Association, and she shared this article. Joyu Wang is the Taiwanese Student Association event planner, and she shared these photos. Read more about the Taiwanese Student Association at tsa.students.missouri.edu.

The meaning of the New Year is for families to get together and “add another year” to their age. Deafening firecrackers mark the first minute of the five-day long holiday. New Year’s Eve is reserved for the father’s side of the family and the second day of the new year for the mother’s side.

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Since Taiwan is a small island and every spot is fairly accessible, the island greets the new year with heavy traffic as people migrate from northern cities to southern counties and back.

New Year's Day, the “spring walk” day, is saved for the core family to get out and enjoy the day together or head to the nearest temple for some new year wishes.

The third day is “friends and neighbors” day, where people visit and give new year wishes. New year is usually associated with good ol’ money. Children earn a lot of “red envelope” money from everyone during these five days, and adults enjoy giving them out for good luck. Friendly gambling games are played every night.

New Year's ends on the 15th day (the full moon). Northern Taiwan celebrates with the beautiful PingXi Sky Lantern Festival and Southern Taiwan with the thundering (and dangerous!) Yanshuei Beehive Rocket Festival.

In Northern Taiwan, thousands of giant sky lanterns reach the sky simultaneously, written all over with good wishes for the new year. This tradition started off as a sign of peace during the early turmoil era when the Northern hills were troubled with robbers and thieves. Those on the hilltops used white lanterns to signal their safety to their relatives.

In Southern Taiwan, thousands of rockets, aimed at the participants and statues of gods, are fired simultaneously to rid the land of illness and bad luck. This is an extremely dangerous event. People arm up with full helmets and heavy clothing to brave the storm of crazy rockets.

Every year, the Taiwanese Student Association gets together and celebrates the New Year with a hearty buffet and traditional Lantern Riddle games. We give out lucky red envelopes for the winners and welcome new incoming students. Taiwanese students are usually scattered across campus and this is when they see each other again. This year’s event attracted almost 60 Taiwanese students.

This story is part of a a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how.


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