Beginning February 18th to March 5th we celebrated Chinese New Year and this year we welcomed the “Year of the Sheep”. Chinese New Year is the biggest family event here in Taiwan (like Christmas for us). The date is based on the lunar calendar and therefore every year it is celebrated at a different time in January or February. The first six days are official holidays. A lot of people go to visit their families back home. For married people it is exactly determined which days are celebrated with the husband’s family and which ones with the wife’s family. Children receive “Hong Baos”, which are red envelopes with money, from their parents, relatives or friends of the parents. Parents of already grown up children also receive “Hong Baos” from their children. These six holidays are especially filled with ancestor worship, eating and going on short trips. Many Taiwanese people also use this time to play Mahjong (a traditional Chinese game).
Our neighbors and friends invited us several times to delicious Chinese food during these days. It’s great to see that our relationships with some people have grown in the last year so much that they are inviting us to their family celebrations. After these six holidays everyday life started again. On the first working day everywhere was the sound of firecrackers. All the shops and businesses put firecrackers to welcome the new business year and to drive away evil spirits.
The end of the Chinese New Year time is on the 15th day of the New Year, which is the Lantern Festival. Around this time children receive little paper lanterns everywhere, which first have to be assembled by their parents, and at night children can be seen outside for a stroll with their lanterns. Since we do not have German autumn tradition here, which is doing lantern parades with handmade lanterns, we have crafted own lantern for the Lantern Festival this year. Yesterday night we went to a big park here in Taipei to celebrate the “Lantern Festival” with seemingly a million other people. Throughout the park everywhere big lanterns were on display – people, animals, dragons, houses … It was really beautiful.
So we wish you all a blessed year of the sheep, or as the Taiwanese people say “Gongxi Facai! Shenti Jiankang!”(Congratulations, wealth and health!).