Tuesday's Taiwan-isn {Chinese New Year!}

Chinese New Year; oh  boy, where do I even start?!

Before moving to Taiwan I knew it was a holiday, I knew it took place sometime after our new year (January 1) and that it changed dates every year, and I knew there was a lot of  red and yellow stuff and maybe some dragons thrown in there...but that was about it. Holy moly though, I'm pretty sure living here was like the world's best crash course in Chinese New Year! I'm not claiming to be an expert on anything here, but I will admit I sure did ask a heck of a lot of questions about what was going on around me!

What: Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year) is the celebration of the new year according to the lunar calendar.

When: This year's Chinese New Year took place on February 8, 2016 & we are now in the year of the monkey! {so long 2015 ram!}

Where: Chinese new year is celebrated in many of the Asian countries & territories with strong Chinese populations such as mainland China, Taiwan, Macau, & Hong Kong.

Who: Traditionally the holiday was celebrated by the Chinese people, but today it is celebrated by Chinese people and foreigners alike {who wants to turn down a great celebration!?} The week of Chinese New Year (February 8-12 this year) is officially a national holiday in Taiwan and thus schools, businesses, many stores close for the week's celebrations {along with winter vacation we had 25 days straight with no school!}

How: Here's the big one, how do they celebrate?! The short version...they eat, spend time with their families, give lucky money to the kids, dance, & have fun!

--- --- --- The LONG Version! --- --- ---

The traditional food for families to make during Chinese New Year is hot pot. Hot pot is essentially a pot full of boiling broth that people then put meats and vegetables into to cook themselves before eating (personally I think it is somewhat of a bland meal...but to each their own!). Also many oranges are given and eaten during this time as a gift of an orange is like giving the person a wish for good fortune in the new year (needless to say I have about 50 oranges in my room currently...thanks everyone!)

The children's favorite part of Chinese New Year is receiving "lucky money". Lucky money is any amount of money placed in a red envelope and  usually given to you by an older relative during the New Year. Although I'm not a child I was lucky enough to win a drawing at our staff luncheon and get myself some lucky money...happy day! 

Red envelops everywhere!

Just like we decorate for Christmas in red and green, they deck their halls in red & yellow...EVERYWHERE! Everywhere you turned (homes, stores, malls, restaurants, everywhere!) was decorated. Paper lanterns were hung from above, monkey are still scattered on every flat surface you can find (2016 is the year of the monkey) and spring couplets are hung outside of every homes entrance. Spring couplets were a new one for me. They are essentially a poem of sorts written on 3 large sheets of red paper {some are super fancy looking} and then hung on either side of the doorway with the 3rd piece on the top of the door. A 4th, and much smaller, square piece is then hung like a diamond on the center of the door generally with a single character (word) printed on it. I was given a spring couplet for my apartment, but not having a clue what it said or which one went in which spot....it never got hung up...maybe next year! 

Doorway to my apartment building

Lion dancing was also another big {and totally new for me} event for Chinese New Year. This one still needs some more research to learn about the meaning behind it, but essentially peopled would dress up as lions (I swore they looked like fuzzy dragons though haha) and parade around the streets with people beating big drums. Passerby's would pet the lion and often put money in its mouth...again not 100% sure what exactly was going on haha. 

Oh, and firecrackers, I couldn't possibly forget about those lovely things. I meant who doesn't love the sound of firecrackers going off at 10pm, 10am, and all hours in between...there is no exaggeration here!! My street is currently red from all the firecracker wrappers that are stuck to it!

Today, Monday, February 22, 14 days after Chinese New Year started is the Lantern Festival and officially the end of the Chinese New Year. I don't have high hopes for the monkeys or firecrackers to be disappearing anytime soon, but I am excited to see what the lantern festival brings my way!!

1. Holiday shop  2. Even KFC gets in on the fun! 3. 7-eleven full of New Year gifts

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