It was two years ago this week that I had the pleasure of celebrating the Chinese New Year in Taiwan. It now feels like a very distant memory yet one that I can vividly recall. This year, the Year of the Ox starts on February 12, 2021. In Taiwan the national holiday is celebrated for one week during which time most stores are closed.
What I recall most about that experience was the ‘family time’. Grandparents, parents and children got together and from what I experienced, enjoyed eating together. Now with Covid, how we experience and enjoy these holidays and traditions has had to change. Interestingly, the island has recorded less than 1,000 total cases and just nine deaths. However, they take their quarantine process very seriously. “Taiwanese authorities have slapped a $3,500 fine on a man who broke quarantine regulations for just eight seconds.
The man, a migrant worker was quarantining in a hotel in Kaohsiung City when he briefly stepped out of his room into the hallway… The man was caught on CCTV by hotel staff, who contacted the Department of Health, CNA reported. The department fined him 100,000 Taiwan dollars — around $3,500.”
According to the Taiwan News some of the most popular Lunar New Year traditions include:
- Spring cleaning
- Red couplets (spiritual messages or poems) are replaced with new ones
- Family get-together
- Red envelopes (containing new banknotes)
- Family feast ( a huge meal prepared by the matriarch and contain dozens of dishes)
- Mahjong ( families will often play after their dinner)
- New red clothes
- Don’t break things (a sign that bad luck will follow)
- Avoid negative words, sharp objects ( they may cut down on your good luck)
Across the rest of the world, where the pandemic continues to result in shut downs, emergency measures and limits on get togethers, the celebration will be definitely toned down.
The restrictions on family/friend gatherings and for many of us, the continued restriction of visiting our loved ones who live in a communal residence- is the toughest. Let’s hope that next year will be better…..
Gong hei fat choy