Category Archives: Traditions & Holidays

Lantern Festivals

Its lantern festival season in Taiwan. It seems most cities across the island have some sort of festivities. Jason got the chance to go to Pingxi last week to see the famous sky lantern festival. For my taste of the festivities I took an afternoon trip with Max to see what Taipei had on offer.

At Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall the city put on a large festival for over a week. It’s the Year of the Rabbit, which is painfully obvious since the entire site is basically a bunny explosion:

Make no mistake. Its the year of the Rabbit. If the hundreds of bunny’s littering the front lawn doesn’t do it, well than this giant rotating pink rabbit should:

I do find it interesting that the Taiwanese interpretation of the year of the Rabbit is more so the year of the cutesy smiley bunny.

Or so I thought. Until I saw the free mini lanterns being given away daily to kids:


Surveying the rest of the grounds the majority was dedicated to displaying lanterns built by various schools in the city. For me, say the word paper lantern and I conger up images of the typical ikea ball shaped paper lantern lamp. Imagine my surprise when I rock up to the festival to find these:

Lanterns it seems can be any paper shaped hallow object. Personally I love the ciber-bunny. And I appreciate that the students of Taipei strayed from the cute bunny image as well. Although dimsum bunny and banna/garlic bunny have vague resemblance to Bugs Bunny back in the racist years of cartoons.

Aside from lantern displays, there were DIY crafting tents for kids, a large stage for concerts, and an area for writing down wishes:

This is afterall a festival with religious roots.

So, by no means as cool as the Pingxi Festival that Jason went to, but still a very interesting sample of local culture.

中秋節: Mid-Autumn Festival

Last Wednesday was a holiday here in Taiwan, 中秋節 (zhōngqiūjié), also known as the Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival.

My parents were in town for the holiday (which was on Thursday in Hong Kong) so we received some much-needed babysitting from the grandparents. This was good timing as last week also happened to be our 4th wedding anniversary!

One of the classic hallmarks of the Moon Festival is moon cakes (月餅, yuè​bǐng​). Moon cakes are typically given to suppliers, staff, and anyone else you don’t like … er … they’re a lot like Christmas cake in Western countries – that is, they are passed around and when you get them, you often give them to somebody else! 🙂 However many Chinese and Taiwanese people love to get them, and unlike Christmas cake, moon cakes actually taste pretty good. That is, unless you get one of the “traditional” ones with the egg yolks inside.

Tastes great, until you get to the, not one, but TWO egg yolks inside!

I took home a box from my work as we were overflowing with moon cakes and other treats before the holiday. Thankfully this box contained one of the best treats available in Taiwan: pineapple cakes.

MIPS inspecting the merchandise

Mmm ... I love pineapple cakes. I devoured half of these myself.

For dinner on Wednesday night we chose to go to N°168 Prime Steakhouse in the Grand Victoria Hotel (維多麗亞酒店) in 內湖 (Nèi​hú​). The Australian Wagyu beef was incredibly good and it was a great way to celebrate the festivities. At the end of the meal we were given the other hallmark of Mid-Autumn Festival, a Pomelo (柚子, yòuzi). I love 柚子 as they’re like a grapefruit but sweeter, and they’re in season at this time of year. Also this week, we just found a great fruit market near out apartment so we’ll be buying up their 柚子 stock while it lasts!

Ghost Festival Continues in Taiwan

The Ghost Festival, or 盂蘭盆 (Yúlánpén), is typically celebrated on the fourteenth night of the 7th lunar month (August 24 this year), but the traditional fires continue burning here well into the month. Everywhere we go we see men in business attire burning fires outside their place of business.

Here are a few (rather poor quality) photos I snapped outside of my own office building in 中和市:

There’s always something interesting to see each day in 台北!