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Taiwan Has More Reasons To Party

- Hye Sung

All of Taiwan gets excited for the annual Taiwan Lantern Festival, with good reason. This festival, which only started in 1990, has exploded throughout the years and become a cherished time among the Taiwanese people. Taiwanese folklore is embraced during this festival, as honor is given to Guan Yu, a general from the late Eastern Han Dynasty, during the firecracker ceremony and traditional astrological themes can be seen all throughout the ceremonies. Folk dances can be seen throughout these ceremonies, as well as acrobatic arts, skits performed of ancient myths, mock battles, and other ancient and traditional arts.

The origins of the festival go beyond 1990, as it is rooted in the celebrations of an agricultural people in Taiwan who gave thanks for longer days due to the changing of seasons. The revival of this festival in the 90s was to preserve the traditions and folklore of the Taiwanese people, but this festival has become more than an attempt to preserve something of the past. This festival creates an even richer season, welcoming in the lunar New Year (which is extravagant already in Asian cultures) with the whole family.

Being the foodie that I am, I must talk about tangyuan, the food of this festival. Like mochi, the Japanese equivalent, it is made from glutinous rice flour. They are formed into little balls and served in soups, such as in sweet red bean soup, and dumplings. Sometimes they are simply eaten as treats, sometimes filled bean paste or sugar.  The wide variety of dishes that can be made with tangyuan makes this food something that is very difficult to get sick of.

As this festival approaches, I recommend making a trip out to Taiwan with your family to enjoy the beauty of Taiwanese culture, in both their myths, folklore and traditions, as well as their delicious food.

For more some delicious tangyuan recipes, read here for a purple sweet potato dumpling, here for a black sesame dumpling, and here for a peanut dumpling.

For more information on the annual Taiwan Lantern Festival, read here.

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