Sunday, June 21, 2015

Visiting Taiwan--Flowers, Sheep and Lanterns


My wandering took me back to Taiwan in February 2015. 

The plums and cherries were in bloom, attracting people with cameras. 

cherries, Taiwan

The Lunar/Chinese New Year started relatively late compared to the western calendar's year 2015. Consequently February '15 fell within the first month of the New Year and people still had their decorations up while I was there. Traditionally Lunar New Year celebrations included holidays at both the beginning and the end of the month. Since it was the Year of the Sheep (or ram, or goat or lamb or kid...the Chinese term, yáng, is ambiguous) there was ample opportunity for people to make creative displays.

Taiwan 2015

Year of the Sheep, Taiwan

The sheep above are wool over some container, with flowerpot heads and pieces of curled wire as horns. The ram below is inflated plastic. 

Since Taiwan is tropical and subtropical (see my earlier blog), I saw impressive floral displays decorating public places.

floral decoration, Taiwan


The dates of my tour with China Span's Keren Su were chosen to attend the lantern festival in Pingxi, not far outside Taipei. The crowds were impressive but the town had set up a shuttle service and generally, although it was very busy, it was well-organized.

Lantern Festival Pingxi

lantern festival, Taiwan

The participants in the sky lantern festival paint messages on paper lanterns that float up into the sky. A tiny fire inside the lantern creates hot, rising air that pushes the lantern upward. Simple and elegant physics.

lantern festival, Taiwan

The current tradition is to write wishes for the new year all over the lantern before setting it aloft.

By day they are fun to watch.

By night, they are spectacular.

lantern festival, Taiwan

In a moment, hundreds of lanterns had risen, floating higher and higher until they vanished into the night sky.

 Pingxi, Taiwan
Pingxi, Taiwan
I worried where all those little fires would come down, but I was assured that that part of Taiwan is so rainy that it isn't a problem. It drizzled on me most of the afternoon: note the rain gear and umbrellas in the two photos above the people launching their lantern and the mist in the picture above. the The festival organizers in Pingxi also pay people for bringing in old (used, spent) lanterns they find, so that the materials, although of biodegradable paper, don't make a litter problem.

Silly sheep, funny goats, and lanterns carrying good wishes into the sky are happy festive things not normally found in northern Colorado. We do try to celebrate flowers in summer, although as far as I know we don't have walls of flowers. I am often blasé about festivals, but these made me reconsider! What fun! 

Comments and corrections welcome.

You can always click on the photos to make them bigger. I don't generally make the photos "extralarge" because in some browsers those are too large and slop outside the blog.

Kathy Keeler

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