In Taiwan and Chinese culture, ceremonies and rituals take place on the first day of business to bring good luck and prosperity for the new year.
Offerings for the Gods are laid out on folding tables in front of businesses throughout Taipei and the rest of the island of Taiwan as shops, banks, offices, and most other commercial operations mark the start of their business year. Firecrackers are lit to chase away any bad spirits and kick off a prosperous year.
Some larger businesses or associations will hire a Lion Dance troupe to help start the year off with good luck and fortune.
This year after I heard the sounds of firecrackers I immediately got ready and headed for Dihua Street, the site of an annual New Year’s food and snacks market and a commercial district the rest of the year.
Dihua was once a bustling site of trading and export houses from around the world. Tea, fabrics, rice and other goods were loaded on ships docked at the nearby Danshui River. Today Dihua, a neighborhood of historic Qing Dynasty era buildings is home to traditional Chinese medicine shops, bulk foods and speciality items, cafes, and the Yongle Fabric Market.
It was here where I eventually found myself ready to capture one of the most traditional and exciting ways to start the business year in Taiwan, a Lion Dance performance, prayer ceremony and a powerful firecracker blast.
Xīnnián kuàilè, Happy New Year from Taipei, Taiwan!
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