The culture and festivals in Tainan speak of the kind of people it has and the kind of place it is. Because Tainan, the old capital of Taiwan, is technically a city of China, it is rich in Chinese culture and festivals celebrated by its residents to commemorate their proud heritage.
But even though China and Taiwan share a lot of festivals, Tainan still has its own festivals as unique as itself. Thus, some of the festivities in Tainan are not celebrated in mainland China. The festivals in Tainan all portray the culture of the city, and explain the whys and wherefores of certain beliefs and practices of its people. If you want to learn more about Tainan and its people, witnessing some of their festivals is definitely a sure way of discovering their culture, beliefs and systems. Below are some of the festivals in Tainan that are worth seeing:
The Lantern Festival is perhaps the most popular of all Chinese festivals in Tainan. The Lantern Festival marks the end of the Chinese New Year Festival and the beginning of a new year. It usually takes place on the first full moon of the year, about halfway through the first month of the Lunar calendar. During the celebration, beautiful lanterns would be seen hanging throughout the streets. In Tainan, instead of lanterns, however, you’ll see fireworks shooting up the sky every now and then in keeping with the festivities in Yanshuei district in Tainan.
There are many legends and stories surrounding the Lantern Festival, some relate to romantic love while some to the punishment of people by the gods of fire, but whatever the people believe, the Lantern Festival definitely invites festive air and high spirits among its believers.
2. Yanshuei Firecrackers Festival
The Yanshuei Firecrackers Festival (also called Yanshui Beehive Firecracker Festival) coincides with the Lantern Festival and is celebrated at the same time that the Lantern Festival is celebrated. In Tainan, the celebrations usually center in Yanshuei Wu Miao Temple. It is marked by an interesting ceremony where the people would visit the Yanshuei Wu Miao and then lighting firecrackers wherever the god’s sedan chair will go.
The Dragon Boat Festival (along with the Spring Festival and Mid-Autumn Day) is one of the most celebrated festival in Tainan. It is celebrated in many cities of China as well, but in Tainan, the celebration is always associated with “Zongzi”, a snack made of sticky rice. The celebrations are also often marked by dragon boat racing, which could drag for about three days.
The Harvest Festival is celebrated in Tainan as well as the rest of the country to thank the gods and goddesses for the year’s bounty, and to ask for another year of bountiful harvest. Tourists are all welcome to join in the festivities.
5. Zhong Yuan Festival
The Zhong Yuan Festival (also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival) is one of the most colorful festivals in Tainan and the rest of the country. And although the festival is celebrated by Chinese all over the world, it is Taiwan that has a long history of the Hungry Ghost Festival and that has a dedicated museum and a port town famous for it. During the festival, public and private rituals are held throughout the city. Offerings of food, wine and materials made of paper are made, and it is believed that by burning these materials, the spirits will be able to receive them.
Of all the religious festivals in the country, it’s probably the Zhong Yuan Festival that clearly demonstrates the culture and festivals in Tainan to be closely interrelated. Even with the modern changing world and the globalization, this one festival still reflects the beliefs of its people and its proud heritage.