Culture, Religion, Superstitions

Two days after we landed, we participated in a Chinese engagement/wedding ceremony. My aunt called it 報喜 (bao4 xi3) which means report the good news.

12 items to offer to ancestors

Most of my relatives are in Taiwan and they still keep and pass down a lot of the traditions. Paying respect to ancestors is one of them. Two of my dad’s older brothers have ancestor plaques (祖先牌位) in their homes (and a small part of their house at the front for a little shrine). The plaque, in a way, contains the ancestors’ spirits. It’s a bit like the beginning of the Disney movie, Mulan, where Mushu was talking to the ancestors who appeared from the writings on the walls.

Normally the eldest son has the original ancestor plaque but for some reason (I don’t know the details and from what I’ve heard, it seems like miscommunication problems causing small disputes to blow up) my first uncle’s wife and my second uncle’s wife do not get along, so each claim that they have the original ancestors. We paid respect to both.

Numbers are really important. We needed to have 12 items to offer to the ancestors and gods. A lot of numbers have to be even (except 4, 14, 44 etc.).

Taiwanese people like things to be 熱熱鬧鬧 (hot hot noisy noisy) – I think it’s one reason why people like to go to night markets – so naturally, some fireworks were involved.

My uncle lighting up firecracker.

I like the opposite of 熱熱鬧鬧, I like quietness and nature (for the most part, I am not fond of some bugs and I still despise mosquitoes – I thought I wouldn’t get bitten because it was WINTER, but nope at least 5 bites!).

There are a lot of traditions in Taiwan. We got away with doing something really simple.

I find that I deal with most of these traditions positively because I am interested in learning about the culture. However, there are some things I question but sometimes still do out of respect. For example, burning of paper money for ancestors. I agree with paying respect to ancestors (and that when people pass, their energy might still be around), but I am not sure if the ritual does anything.

What is the difference between some of the religious practices (not just this particular religion, but other religions) and superstition?

Cakes to give out to family for marriage (喜餅).


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