With its rich 400 years history, Hsinchu region is the oldest city in North Taiwan. Originally inhabited by the Taokas tribe who named it Chuchang, the present name of Hsinchu was proclaimed since late 19th Century. Today, the city is famous for its technological industries as it houses more than 400 high-tech companies such as TSMC and Philips. However, it is more famous as a historical and cultural destination. The traditional culture and festivals in Hsinchu have been visited not only by domestic tourists but also by people abroad.
Knowing the local people’s norms and practices is important when traveling to Asian places, particularly in Hsinchu where traditional cultural norms and proper etiquette are generally followed. In Taiwan, the footwear are seen as dirty items of clothing, and as such, shoes must be removed prior to entry to any house or sacred places. Most homes have slippers placed near the doorway for visitors to use. The head is viewed as important and you should not touch other people’s heads even in casual interactions. When greeting someone, a simple nod is enough but during business meetings, handshakes are prevalent. Bowing is also a common expression of respect.
When talking about culture and festivals in Hsinchu, numerous traditional events are celebrated each month, highlighting the unique cultural history and identity of the city. On the first day of the first lunar month, Chinese New Year is celebrated and often takes place in January. This is the biggest event of the year with families cleaning their homes, sweeping away bad luck. Color red is the theme color, from the decor, clothes and even little red envelopes containing cash and candies given to little kids during family gatherings.
Two weeks after the Chinese New Year is the Lantern Festival, celebrated during February. Colorful lanterns with images of animals and significant historical figures can be seen hanging in houses throughout the street and in temples. Lantern making contests are also organized in many venues as well as lantern riddle parties. During March, you have the Flower Festival, often held in 18-Peaks Mountain Park. During this time, apricot and peach trees, camellias and azaleas are in full bloom. You can also see picturesque rows of artistically landscaped shrubs.
Following the Flower Festival is the Sea Festival in the month of April, which has been locally declared the ‘Gazing to the Sea’ month. Several activities and seaside enjoyment happen during this time particularly in 17-kilometer coastal scenic area.
Also known as Qingming Festival, Tomb Sweeping Festival takes place during May. The locals visit their deceased loved ones at gravesites and place willow branches on mausoleums to ward off bad spirits. Next is the Prayer for Blessings Ceremony that takes place every July or seventh lunar month. The locals offer prayers to local spirits and deities, asking for blessings in the coming months. This is also the month when the Hsinchu government puts emphasis on the city’s traditional beliefs and culture even through modern times.
Other interesting culture and festivals in Hsinchu include Sightseeing Festival in August, Rice Noodle Festival during September, Hsinchu Glass Festival in October, Pas-taai Festival of Saisaat Aboriginal Group in November and the Monkey Festival for the Puyama tribe in December.