About Chris Banducci
Chris Banducci is a pastor and missionary in Taiwan. He has, at other times of his life, been a white-water rafter, rock climber and adventurer. He left the corporate world of Solid Waste Recycling in 1996 and went into full-time ministry, where he pioneered a church in Riverside, California for the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship and is now engaged in the same endeavor in Taoyuan City, Taiwan. He writes on the culture, religion, tradition, and day-to-day life in Taiwan. Twenty-six years of living with Muscular Dystrophy may have weakened his muscles but not his spirit.
Latest Posts by Chris Banducci
Photos by Elizabeth Banducci
Most of Taiwan’s traditional holidays are marked through the use of the Lunar Calendar. modern Holidays are marked through the Solar Calendar. Let’s take a look at the Taiwanese Holidays:
(February 10, 2013) This is the
most important holiday of the year. It
is celebrated much the same way that Christmas is celebrated in the west. Families gather for 3-15 days. Traditional meals are served on Chinese New
Year’s Eve. People are given gifts of
Hong Bao 紅包 these are gifts of
money that are a wish of prosperity for the recipient.
Festival: 元宵節 Lunar date is January 15. (February 25, 2013) This is the first day a
full moon can be seen in the New Year.
People celebrate by lighting and launching sky lanterns. There are also huge venues where people go
to see artistically made lanterns and watch them launched. People often write prayers and wishes on the
side of the lanterns before they are released. The traditional food for the Lantern festival is the tangyuan 湯圓 (soup circle) These are balls of gooey, sweet rice gluten.
to sweep the tombs of departed ancestors.
It is a day to honor the dead.
Many people use this day to burn incense and worship their ancestors.
Dragon Boat Festival): 端午節 Lunar
date is May 5. (June 12, 2013) his festival honors Chinese Poet Quan
Yu. It is celebrated with the racing of
the dragon boats. People eat a special
sticky rice pyramid called a
Lunar date is July 7. (August
13, 2013) This holiday celebrates the
legendary love of Niulang and
Zhinu. According to legend they are
forever separated, but are allowed to unite on July 7. The Taiwanese view this as a romantic night
celebrated much like Valentine’s Day in the west.
2013) The festival honors the departed
ancestors. People commemorate this day
by placing offerings of incense, food and beverages outside their homes and the
burning of spirit money for the family members who have departed the
world. This is the most important date
of Ghost Month (The whole month of July on the lunar calendar.)
Festival: 中秋節 Lunar date is August 15. (September 19, 2013) This is the day when most people get
together with friends and family and barbeque.
Look for an in-depth post on the Moon Festival in September. A gift is given to friends and family of
moon cakes. Circular cakes made with
egg yolks and other things inside. The
shape represents the moon and the cakes themselves are good wishes for the
Festival: 重陽節 Lunar Date is September 9. (October 13, 2013) People usually celebrate this holiday by climbing mountains or
visiting flower shows.
Festival: 下元節 Lunar date is October 15. (November 17, 2013) During this festival people pray to the
water god for a peaceful year.
Solstice: 冬至 Solar Holiday (December 21, 2013)
This corresponds to the Winter Solstice in Zwestern Countries. Families gather to celebrate on this day.
Kitchen God Festival: 謝灶Lunar
date is December 23. (January 23,
2014) This is the day to thank the
kitchen god. It is believed that
on the twenty third day of the twelfth lunar month, just before Chinese New
Year he returns to Heaven to report the activities of every household over the
past year to the Jade Emperor (Yu Huang). The Jade Emperor, emperor of the
heavens, either rewards or punishes a family based on Zao Jun’s yearly report.
year will share the traits of the animal mentioned. The following is a breakdown of the Zodiac and the corresponding years from 1924 through 2031.
The National lantern festival is in Zhubei, this year. The lantern festival is a traditional holiday that occurs two weeks after Chinese New Year.
Photo Credit: Brenda Banducci
That Funky Monkey, even on three legs he’s fast
During Chinese New Year, we thought it would be a good idea to take some friends on a trip into the mountains. We had a pretty extensive list of things that we wanted to visit. At the top of that list was a three-legged Formosan Rock Monkey that hangs out on this walking bridge up in the mountains. I first made his acquaintance while showing a friend the bamboo forest. We stopped at the bridge to check it out when the monkey appeared.
My first thought was that I was seeing some actual Taiwanese wildlife. I couldn’t believe this monkey was that bold. Unfortunately, so many people had fed this monkey that he was now reduced to hanging out and begging from visitors. he’d long ago quit doing what monkeys do to find food, he now was just bumming scraps of food from the tourists. The absolute highlight of that visit though, was when that monkey went after some kid who was teasing him and chased him around the parking lot a couple of times. That was when I knew that this monkey was a kindred spirit. I wanted to chase that kid around the lot myself.
|The bridge where the monkey lives|
I had assumed that people wouldn’t be in the mountains during Chinese New Year. I figured they’d be hanging around their homes with relatives. I was wrong. It took me more than an hour just to get through a small part of Daxi. I sat at the same stoplight through twenty rotations. Everyone was driving to the mountains on that particular day. We were able to get as far as the Chiang Kai Shek mausoleum before we were hopelessly mired in the traffic. So we visited the mausoleum and went home.
The mausoleum was packed with people, many of them tourists from mainland China. We looked at the statue garden, where statues of Chiang from all over the island were gathered a few years back. It’s interesting because there are many statues in the same pose throughout the island. At one point in history these statues were found all over the island, but were removed during Chen Shuibian’s Adminsitration and brought to the mausoleum.
|The lake near the mausoleum|
After that we took the hike up to the mausoleum itself. The area surrounding the mausoleum is beautiful. There is a lake there that’s home to about ten swans, both black and white, although at one time there were eighty-nine. The swans are carefully numbered and have bands that denote their sex. Chiang felt that the swans symbolized purity, loyalty and elegance.
The mausoleum is handicap-accessible they have constructed ramps for wheelchairs to make it easy for visitors to pay their respects. The staff members carry little paddles asking guests to please be quiet as you visit Chiang’s resting place. There is an honor guard that is changed every hour.
just say that the weather wasn’t beautiful. Then, last Saturday, December 29, as if a miracle had occurred I thrust off the blankets. The joints didn’t hurt, the mumbling had stopped, I almost spoke a coherent sentence. Last Saturday dawned brilliantly. Last Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous, warm, spring-like day. Life returned to northern Taiwan.
|An Evening Shot|