Sunday, August 26, 2007

Wasai--- A very unusual holiday

One day, after having lived in Taiwan for only a couple of months, I awoke to the sound of what appeared to be a massive festival. There was music blasting, people dressed up in costumes and performing, and people marching down the street with musical instruments. I walked to work that day, and saw that this festival went on for blocks and blocks, and that many roads had been closed off to traffic. People seemed very festive and happy, and I was sure that this must be a national holiday of some kind. When I arrived at work, I asked my co-workers what holiday was being celebrated today, and they were completely baffled as to what I was talking about. I described what I had seen on the way to work, and finally somebody figured it out. They told me that somebody must have died (!)

This was very surprising to me. Where I come from, funerals are very serious and solemn affairs. I attended a friend’s funeral a couple years ago in America, and the day consisted of people delivering quiet, serious speeches about the departed, and lots of crying and expressions of sadness. People usually wear black or very dark colors, and often hug each other to offer support. Although these are very sad occasions, people usually feel better after having expressed their sadness, and funerals offer a chance for people to let out their emotions, instead of keeping them “bottled up” inside them. I haven’t been in Taiwan for very long, so I’m not sure what the root causes are for these differences. Perhaps the Taiwanese have a different outlook on death? Or perhaps their culture prefers not to express negative emotions in public? When I die, would I rather that people wept over my passing, or that they threw a huge party in my honor? I think there’s something to be said for both approaches

Submitted to Wasai Taiwan by: Randy Fowler (Taipei)

1 comment:

Wei said...

People here in Taiwan consider RED as a blessing, lucky, prosperous color, for example, if you have the opportunity being invited to a taiwanese home during the chinese lunar new year, then you are very likely to see the elderly give a RED envelop(which contains money in it) to the younsters wishing them all the good luck and good health for the next coming year.

In contrast, you could see people wear totally white in a special designed customs in the most of taiwanese funeral occasions. Also, people will put some money in a WHITE envelop as showing their deeply sorry for their lost.