The Lights of Taiwan
Festivals of a place are rooted in the history of its people. What we observe today started because of a reason. Now, festivals are a reason to get close to families, friends, and the community. People are united because they share a common past. Everyone celebrates together with all their heart. Spirits are high as they should be during these memorable days.
One festival with interesting history is celebrated in a country in East Asia. It started when the Qing dynasty ruled over the country. Villagers hid in the mountains with their harvest to save it from getting looted. Then, in the dark, flickering light from the lanterns assured those villagers that their families were safe. The same light now fills the night sky of Taiwan every year after the winter solstice when Taiwanese celebrate the festival of lanterns!
In 2022, for the whole of February, the banks of the Love River in southern Taiwan will be crowded with food carts, game stalls, and obviously, lots and lots of colourful, lighted-up lanterns of different shapes & sizes!
The festival brings everybody out on the street. Families have a good time walking, eating, playing, and enjoying the sights. It's a happy cocktail of colours for the eyes as life-size lanterns of pink pigs, blue bears, gorgeous horses & fish crowd the roadsides. Walking under the lights while savouring traditional dishes of fried rice balls served in hot broth is a well-known custom for good fortune. A musical performance by children playing the drums in harmony makes it a grand event to attend.
Decorations start early. It's all about the lights, culture, art, fireworks, and innovation! Traditionally, people built lanterns using bamboo sticks and paper. Now, steel wires have replaced bamboo sticks & elastic transparent cloth has replaced cloth. Bright, unique, and grand electric light shows take up the eyeballs.
It doesn't matter how the ways of celebrating change with time. What matters is faith in the hearts of people that remains the same as their hopes for the new year reach heaven carried by bright rising lanterns.