For locals in Taiwan, holidays mean long weekends and breaks from work. Sure, they of course have a cultural and traditional significance, but, for many hard workers, it’s about getting some extra time away from the office. However, while travelers and visitors need not think about the time off work – you’re already on holiday, after all – you do need to know what’s going on if you do end up being in Taiwan during a holiday period. Here’s a rundown of six important holidays here in Taiwan.
Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year)
The biggest holiday of the year, Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, marks the start of the year on the traditional lunar calendar. The holiday runs in accordance with the appearance of the new moon and starts each year between January 21 and February 20 and ending with the Lantern Festival celebrations on the 15th day of the lunar calendar. This year (2020), the holiday starts on January 25 and it is the Year of the Rat. Workers in Taiwan usually get four to five days holiday during the Lunar New Year period, starting on Lunar New Year’s Eve. If you happen to be in Taiwan during this period, be wary that many restaurants, businesses and attractions may be closed for the holiday, so plan your trip accordingly. (Read More: A Quick Guide to the Year of the Rat)
The February 28 holiday (228 or Èr èr bā) commemorates the February 28 massacre, also known as the February 28 incident that took place in Taiwan in 1947. In brief, it was an anti-government uprising that was violently suppressed by the Republic of China government resulting in the deaths of anywhere between 5 and 28,000 people. There is a public holiday each year on this day, so expect special, respectful observances to be taking place and some businesses etc. to be closed if you’re in the country during this time.
Qingming, is widely known as Tomb Sweeping Day and is a festival during which locals pay respects to their deceased ancestors, usually by visiting and cleaning (sweeping) their tombs and graves or praying in their family shrine. The holiday falls around April 5 depending on what year it is and some years in Taiwan results in up to a four-day weekend. A quick tip for travelers: do not wish anyone a happy Qingming Festival, as it is a time of mourning. Even if you mean well, you may get a few scornful looks.
Dragon Boat Festival
Dragon Boat Festival is a three-day holiday that commences on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. Also known as Double Fifth Festival, Dragon Boat Festival is a holiday that involves racing Dragon Boats, drinking realgar wine and eating sticky rice dumplings known as zongzi (粽子). The festival’s origins date back to southern China more than 2,000 years ago and come from the tale of the death of celebrated poet and minister Qu Yuan (屈原). (Read more: Everything you need to know about Dragon Boat Festival in Taiwan)
The Moon Festival, like many festivals here in Taiwan, is rooted in ancient myth and legend, most notably that of Chang’e, The Moon Goddess of Immortality. The festival is a joyous occasion, a time when friends and family get together in Taiwan for nighttime partying, and if you happen to be visiting Taipei during the festival, you may find yourself being invited by strangers to drink beer and eat barbecue (and mooncakes) while wandering through various riverside parks in Taiwan. (Read more: Four great ways to spend the Moon Festival in Taipei)
Taiwan’s national day is also known as Double Ten Day due to falling on October 10 each year. It marks the establishment of the Republic of China and commemorates the Wuchang Uprising on October 10, 1911 which resulted in the end of the Qing Dynasty. Many workers in Taiwan will receive two days off during this holiday as part of a long weekend. There are fireworks and celebratory ceremonies held all over Taiwan, but one city each year is given the honor of holding an official fireworks display on October 10.
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