2006/01/02

* Traditional festivals *

"Traditional festivals" have been the most important seasonal rituals among Chinese people. These are the major patterns of everyday life developed by our ancestors according to the seasonal changes, "plowing in spring, irrigating in summer, reaping in fall, and storing in winter". These are the rules distilled from experiences, which fully convey the Chinese's wisdom, acquired from our ancestors' actual production behaviors handed down to us from generation to generation.With four hundred years of development and evolution, they blend into modern life seamlessly, forming the consolidating power of the society indirectly. In addition, they preserve many of the Han race's time concepts and ritual culture. Nowadays, the seasonal rituals held in accordance with traditional rhythm of everyday life are still in force in Taiwan. Through the pious worship of the gods and ancestors, people hope to request for peace and prosperity. As the custom of "celebration for every festival" is still retained in society, it gives the alienating family members in contemporary society common memories, the chances to celebrate the festivals together, the occasion to consolidate their relations. In addition, many ancient and traditional festivals still preserve some inspiring and touching stories and legends, adding much ducational values and reveries to these events. It manifests the Chinese people's deep-rooted culture and humanistic characters.

source : http://edu.ocac.gov.tw/local/web

Chung Yuan Festival


●Origin
According to Taoist beliefs, Chung Yuan Pudu originated on the birthday of the Chinese Guardian of Hell, the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, who governs all matters in the underworld and decreed an amnesty out of mercy so all the wandering ghostd could be released back to the mortal world from hell on the 1st of the seventh lunar month to enjoy the offerings prepared by the living for one month so they might be rescued and converted to "The Way".

Another origination is from Buddhist beliefs, "Ullambana". It is said that a disciple of Buddha, Moginlin, entered hell with basins full of "hundreds of flavors and the five fruits," and offered them in ten directions to rescue his own mother from the way of hungry ghosts on the 15th day of the seventh month.

The Chung Yuan ghosts festival in Keelung can be traced back to the 1st year of Emperor Hsienfeng, Ching Dynasty (1851), when armed strife between settlers from Changchou and those from Chuanchou in mainland China became so fierce that many died in result. Local intellectuals came forth to mediate a ceasefire and then to hold salvation ceremonies for the souls of the dead in rotation, taking those of one surname at a time. The salvation ceremonies soon took the place of armed conflict, and self-defense team demonstrations replaced actual combat.

●Activities
The Chung Yuan ceremony held in Keelung is one of the most spectacular Chung Yuan festivals in Taiwan. The festival begins with the opening of the gates of Hades at Laotakung Temple on the 1st day of the seventh lunar month, and in this evening, every family in Keelung lights a lamp in front of the door in order to light the way for ghosts at night. On the 12th day, lamps at Chuputan Temple are lighted. On the 13th day, a parade of bucket lamps through the streets is held and greeted by attendants.
On the evening of the 14th day, a parade is held for releasing the water lanterns which are contributed by each clan, and there are also richly decorated yiko floats, martial-arts, and folk performances. This is the peak of activity for the entire month. At 23:00 in the night, the launching of water lanterns is held at the seashore of Wanghai Lane in Patoutzu harbor. At the beginning of the activity the water lanterns of the various clans are gathered. After incense is burned and the gods worshipped, the paper lanterns are floated on the water, set alight, and pushed toward the open sea. The clans whose lanterns float the fastest are believed to be those that will prosper most in the year to come. The burning lanterns light up the harbor brightly, providing an enchanting spectacle for the onlookers. On the 15th day, the centerpiece of the entire month-long festival, sacrificial rites for delivering the ghosts are performed both in public and private. At the end of the rites, ceremonial dances are also performed to welcome deity Chung Kuei to awe the ghosts and keep them in order. When the seventh lunar month comes to an end, the gates of Hades are closed at Laotakung Temple, and it indicates the end of the one month-long activity.


source : http://edu.ocac.gov.tw/local/web/Eng/about.htm

Lantern Festival


Lantern Festival, also known as Shang Yuan Festival, takes place on the fifteenth day of the first moon. Last in a series of springtime celebrations, this "second New Year" is widely celebrated by families all around Taiwan. On the night of the festival, decorative lanterns depicting birds, beasts, historical figures, and any one of a number of different themes are carried by children or adorn temples. To highlight these glowing works of art, competitions are held . The Taipei Lantern Festival, held annually at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Plaza and the largest and most famous of these competitions, is attended every year by thousands of lantern-watchers. The Lantern Festival is further enriched by the customarylantern riddle parties that are held on this night.The night sky on Lantern Festival is also illuminated by the Tainan Yanshui Fireworks Display and Taipei Pinghsi Sky Lanterns - known together as "Fireworks in the South, Sky Lanterns in the North," as well as many other regional folk activities.
Lantern Festival is also celebrated by eating tang yuan, an important custom symbolizing family unity and indispensable to the day's festivities.
The varied festivities and customs practiced on Lantern Festival not only provide celebrants with rich entertainment, like the historical-theme lantern displays and riddles, but are also instructive, by their expression of ancient wisdom. The variety of splendid lantern features different folk art techniques, impressing these arts deep in the hearts and minds of the people.




source : http://www.gio.gov.tw/info/festival_c/index_e.htm

Pinghsi Sky Lantern Festival


●Origin
Pinghsi is located in a remote mountain area in Taipei County. During the rule of the Daoguang Emperor in the Ching Dynasty (1820-1850), settlers came from Fujian Province, the early residents developed the region diligently but were often the victims of robbery or murder because the access to the region was inconvenient at that time. Therefore, after the harvest season, the villagers lugged their belongings to the hills and hide, and before the Lantern Festival, the men would go down the hills to find out the situation in the village. They would send lanterns skyward to signal that all was at peace and beckon other villagers to go home. This brought the custom of launching sky lanterns, which is enriched later by providing an expression of prayers, and people believe that the higher the lanterns go, the more the heaven can hear their prayers.

●Activities
The activity of launching sky lanterns is held on the night of the Lantern Festival. The sky lantern with the shape looking like a basket is constructed by the body covered with cotton papers, and the frame made from bamboo strips bending into circles and crisscrossed with wires. A wad of spirit money soaked with kerosene is attached to the wire in the middle of the lantern's bottom frame. When the lantern is lit and the air inside the lantern heats up, the lantern begins to rise, and it descends when the spirit money burns out. When groups of lanterns ascend to the dark sky, like countless twinkling stars, the beautiful and peaceful scene kindles people's hopes for the New year.


source : http://edu.ocac.gov.tw/local/web/Eng/about.htm

New Year's Goods Market


*Origin

Since the Japanese colonization period, in prosperous Taipei City, "plenty to eat" has been the synonym of "Dihua Street." Meanwhile, the place with "plenty to wear" is "Huayin Street." From the Qing Dynasty to the early Japanese colonization period, the shops along Dihua Street were selling groceries, dried foods, tea, rice, cloths, and herbal medicine. Until now, Dihua Street is still the largest wholesale market of groceries, dried products, cloths, and Chinese medicine. The New Year's Goods Market always attracts huge crowds of people. The stalls along the New Year's goods streets are of archaic design, built with environmental materials. On both sides of the streets, there are flags and lanterns, creating an attractive sight for the New Year's consumers.

*Activities

The Zhongqing North Road commercial circle, also called the Back Train Station, was the earliest commercial zone for consumer goods. It was the emporium of leather goods, clothing, and diverse merchandise. The goods sold there are not only of high quality, but also have the same sense of fashion with that of New York, Milan, and Tokyo. However, you can pay 50% to 70% of the marked price at department stores to buy the same products. Therefore, since 1997, Huayin Street began to set up a "New Year's market" in cooperation with the Chinese New Year's Goods Market, to sell the quality products there. The crowds that visit there are just as large as those in department stores.


source : http://edu.ocac.gov.tw/local/web/Index.htm

* Traditional Folk Customs *


Traditional folk customs generally mean "folk knowledge" or a particular way of living; assuch, they are all-encompassing and can be divided into three categories: the first isbetween people and things, such as clothing, food, dwellings, transportation, production,handicrafts, etc.; the second is among people, such as the social mores of a tribe; and the third is between people and god, such as religious beliefs, ceremonies of life, festivals, etc.
In time, these locally formed cultural elements turn into the common experience of an ethnic group and become a nation's valuable cultural assets.The NTCA strives to preserve these precious historical memories in this changing societyand rediscover the joyous flavor of old-time festivals, building a bridge that would allow such folk arts as drumming arrays, stilt walking, and aboriginal dances to remain in modern life, letting old-time toys, lanterns, wood carvings, and beautiful childhood memories to be passed down again from our hands.

source : http://www.ncfta.gov.tw/

Taiwanese opera


Taiwanese opera is a crystallization of Taiwan’s popular culture and the only extent of traditional Chinese opera, which originated in Taiwan. The documentary evidence, which shows that Taiwanese opera, was originally performed in the Lan Yanng plane about one hundredth years ago. At first it was a small-scale performance of singing and dancing. But with the latter addition of elaborate customs and different roles for actors it gradually evolved into a genuine dramatic art form. Because the mattes are all drawn from folk songs and ditties and the lyrics are in the vernacular Taiwanese dialect. Taiwanese is very easy for the average Taiwan person to understand. Thus in a very short period of time it spread all over the island and became the major form of drama for Taiwan. It became so popular that it even spread to the Chinese mainland and those parts of Southeast Asia that where there were constriction of immigrants of the Min-Lan region of the Chinese mainland the birthplace of the Taiwanese dialect and the ancestral home to many people on Taiwan.



Taiwanese’s opera is called Ge-Zai-Xi the she means dramatic performance and the Ge-Zai refers to folk songs or ditties. The name Ge-Zai-Xi means a for of song drama or opera simply put it is a form of opera performed a traditional customs which is built on a foundation of folk songs and ditties sung in Taiwanese. But which is absorbed the performance of traditional Chinese opera.
The ancestor of the great majority of people in Taiwan came from a Chinese Mainland and their traditions are purely Chinese. In addition to carrying on the fine Chinese old cultural traditions the immigrants absorbed some new outside elements and in their new environment a new style took shape. Although Taiwanese opera music uses it own melodies it has absorbed and adopted melodies from other musical forms.

source : http://edu.ocac.gov.tw/culture
links : http://www.ncfta.gov.tw/en/03-02.htm

Shadow show


Shadow show is an ancient Chinese art rich with imagination beauty and sentiment of the orient. It best reflects the characteristic of its people. The shadow show is a combination of music dancing and theatrical plays. Stores on these shows are usually taken from myth legends and folk tales that were passed down form generation to generation.

There is a beautiful legend about the orient of the shadow show. Liu Che the emperor of the Han dynast over the death of his beloved wife madam Lee He thought about her day and night to console the emperor of his loss. And oculist named Lee Sha-ching found a way to project the image of madam lee onto a screen. The emperor was very please this of course may only be an imaginative story but it clearly revels the charm and beauty of the shadow show.
In fact shadow shows originated about one thousand years ago in the song dynasty. The capital city of the song dynasty Bian-liang was a commercial center busy and prosperous. Night market provides excellent conditions for the development of shadow show. Although originally met to amuse pheasant's shadow show eventually entered it to the life of the aristocrats and became on of the most important court entertainment. Ganges Khan military insurgents further brought the shadow show to Prussia, Arab, and turkey.
Thus paving the way of shadow show in countries like England France and Germany. According to historical writings the shadow show in Taiwan date back to time when Zheng Chen-gong governed over Taiwan in the Ming dynasty. What you can see now is part of the actual performance given by the famous traditional shadow show artist Mr. Xie Who-nan.




source:http://edu.ocac.gov.tw/culture

Tops


A top is a toy that you can spin around on the ground. In the song dynasty there was a toy that resembled a top it was called Qian Qian. The Qian Qian was a needle like form that was about one inch long placed on an ivory disc. People would twist it with their fingers to start it spinning and then see whom's top would spin the longest. Concubines and court ladies would pass the time playing with tops in the gardens of palaces. In the Ming dynasty the book spectacles in the capital city, the foot of the lion, when willow leaves bud, spin tops. It was not known weather or not if tops evolved when the Qian Qian formally tops were very popular in Mainland China the ways for playing with tops were very basic.
Children set the tops on the ground and used a small whip to set the top in motion. To make the tops spin and spin they would turn it with their hands and hit it with the whip. In Taiwan with industry advancing with leaps and bounds and great progress being made in manufacturing materials the types of tops have also developed. Method of play are varied especially in regard to wooden tops ranging from the size of your pinkie to those weighing 5,10,50, or even those weighing 150 kilograms. Because of this tops are suitable for both young and old men and women.











source : http://edu.ocac.gov.tw/home_en.htm