Saturday, March 20, 2010
I have been hearing a lot about this lately, so I decided to trouble my friend Sandra for the inside scoop:
Qing Ming is an important time for traditional families because it brings extended family together physically from all over Taiwan and sometimes beyond. It also unites the family in purpose as they celebrate their common heritage and xiao, or filial piety.
The ritual is comprised of the cleaning of gravestones and surrounding area, followed by the presentation of flowers and food offerings like fruit, meat, and Mijiu, a kind of rice wine. They additionally make offerings by burning ghost money, the paper money stand-in that allows their forbears to have lots of spending cash in the life yonder.
All the dearly departed are fair game, but people rarely go beyond their great-grandfathers. Apparently this is because most families either can not trace or have not traced genealogy records past this point.
The on-site festivities last for a couple of hours, after which the family cleans up the offerings and reconvenes elsewhere for a reunion-style get-together. The food that had just been presented as an offering may be later consumed by living family members.
This is a nationally recognized holiday in Taiwan, so most people get a three day weekend to aid with the travel that may be necessary to complete their responsibilities. I’m informed that most families are still traditional enough to honor this celebration, while some of the new and progressive generation are tempted to shirk their duty in favor of a nice, lazy spring day.
Day 3: I’m quite impressed with the progress I’ve made in just 3 days!
After a few days of hardcore knitting, I took a break and did some reading. I needed to put it aside for a bit so that I didn't get bored. When I picked it up again, I worked like a racehorse, it grew so quickly.
Day 8: It's starting to look more like a sweater.
And just two days later...
Day 10: FINISHED!
I have a special "package" arriving in a few weeks that will bring my next knitting project! Until then, I'll enjoy my sweater in what little cool weather we have left for me to wear it; luckily it's short sleeved!!
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Look again. They’re puppets.
Traditionally, these are cloth and wooden puppets used to tell traditional Chinese folklore. The Huang family’s famous PiLi Dynasty hand puppet theatre gives a new twist to the traditional Chinese palm shows of yore:
“Puppet masters, utilizing their unique one-man-multiple-voice talent, enacted stories and legends, with a mix of rich Chinese customs, culture, historical tales of chivalry and stories of passion, brought to life each puppet character. They captured the hearts of audiences and skillfully guided them into the story.” (http://www.pili.com.tw/en/)
Currently, for their TV audience, the Huang family has reinvented the traditional puppet art with elaborate production. (Elaborate production-- as in watching might make you a little motion sick.)
Episodes are in Taiwanese with Mandarin subtitles. Luckily, there are some clips on YouTube with English subs so we don’t have to miss one action-packed minute of dialogue!
Ever seen a puppet bleed?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-OU79maIdk (embedded above)
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
The Sky Lantern Festival is an annual event held in various locations around the country. Depending on the location, lanterns are decorated with written wishes and either released into a river or into the air.
Here's how it works...
In addition to individuals setting off lanterns throughout the night, the festival scheduled the release of some 8,000 lanterns. They would release hundreds at a time, creating a beautiful image in the sky.
We even took some time and decorated our own lanterns to release...
Around 8pm we decided to make our way back to the buses...however ended up spending 2 hours in a mass of people waiting to board. They corralled people into two lines, one for sitting and the other for standing, however with the mass of people, there was confusion on which line was which. Luckily we were in the standing line which moved faster. We spent another hour standing/sitting on the floor of the bus and arrived back to the train station just in time to catch one of the last trains at 11:45. We finally arrived at the bus station around 12:45 where we caught the last bus back to Hsinchu and were in bed by 2:15am.
After sharing with our co-workers on Monday, we learned that it was broadcast on television not to go on the first day due to the expectation of such large crowds and that the crowds exceeded any previous years attendance. It was worth it, but, like Times Square on New Year's Eve, I don't ever want to go back!
cute little mouse enjoying a piece of candy that had fallen off the nearby shelf. The movement of the fridge scared the mouse and he fled for cover under our bed! There was no lack of shrieks and shrills from me, so Dan escorted me to the bathroom and said to wait in there while he tried to get it out. A few minutes later he opened the door to hand me all of our sheets and blankets and I saw that he'd turned the bedroom and living room into a massive furniture chute...he had taken clothes and blocked the spaces below our wardrobes and used other furniture to create a path to the door. Unfortunately, the little rascal out-witted him and found the one and only crack in his path, darting directly for cover in our beautiful mound of furniture storage.
When we returned from our vacation, we found that our friendly rodent had chewed through a rug and part of the door in one of the other rooms we have turned into a "den." Being that we live in such a large space, there was no use in trying to find the thing, but we decided that we'd buy a trap and try to catch him. Procrastinators that we are, we've been back a week and have yet to buy a mouse trap. Although, with today's discovery, it seems the mouse trap will not be needed any longer. It's unclear exactly how the mouse died and just how long it's been dead. It was under the couch and had chewed through (and most likely eaten) part of a blanket used as a slipcover so this may have been the cause. Luckily, he didn't find the supply of snacks on the coffee table next to the couch - he must not have been a great climber!
After sharing this story with a few co-workers and our boss, it seems there are some family members hiding out in the school side of our building. There have been droppings found in the teachers lounge and one even ran down the stairs during a parent open house.