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It’s similar, yet so different!

Since around three-fourths of the population in Taiwan are immigrants from China, we share the same major holidays (such as Chinese New Year and Moon Festivals). Besides the nationally-occurring political holidays that actually get you out of school or work, many of the Taiwanese celebrations and festivals only happen regionally.

I’m going to introduce my favorite festival – the Pinxi Sky Lantern Festival. It happens right after Chinese New Year, which is usually around the beginning or middle of February; the date varies due to the Lunar Calendar. People write their wishes on the Sky Lantern, then light the candle inside it and let go. It symbolizes their New Year as their wish rises as the Sky Lantern goes up into the night sky. Although the process is small, it is more challenging than you think it is! The key is to have the right amount of wind (due to the weather) and the right timing of letting the lantern go. If it goes wrong, the Lantern will just wobble around and burn. But the experience is definitely precious and worth the challenge! Just look at the image:

(Google Image)

In Taiwan, 18 is the age when you have the right to drink, smoke, and drive legally, but interestingly, not vote. It is different there than in the States, as you will be in much bigger trouble if you got caught smoking than drinking underage in Taiwan. If young people are smoking, people generally picture them as gang members or any figure that’s associated with “bad” in the society. However, drinking underage is completely different in Taiwan. I still remember a Chinese New Year a couple years ago, when I was with all the elder members in the family, where I was “encouraged” to drink with them since I was “close enough” to an adult, but of course not to the point where I lost consciousness. Perhaps since drinking alcohol is not stigmatized much in our teenage years, we don’t hear as much about drinking problems among high school and college students.

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