• Directory of Taiwan

12 taboos to beware of during Lantern Festival in Taiwan

Don't get into family spats, go to dreary places, curse, get a haircut, or wear black-and-white stripes

New Year Blessings from the Tiger Lord. (Taiwan Tourism Bureau photo)

New Year Blessings from the Tiger Lord. (Taiwan Tourism Bureau photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Tuesday (Feb. 15) is the Lantern Festival (元宵節), which marks the 15th and final day of Lunar New Year festivities as well as the first full moon of the Lunar New Year.

It is an auspicious day during which lanterns are lit and Yuanxiao dumplings eaten. However, some taboos must be observed to ensure a prosperous new year.

Yang Teng-kei (楊登嵙), a folk custom expert and the founding chairman of the Taichung Numerology Education Association, says that this day, also known as the Shangyuan Festival (上元節), is the birthday of the Taoist deity Tianguan (天官大帝), the god of good fortune. With this and the lunisolar calendar in mind, Yang has created the following list of traditional taboos to observe during the Lantern Festival:

1. Avoid family arguments
Tianguan's birthday should be festive, and married couples should avoid conflict. Parents should try to ensure their children do not cry and refrain from hitting them so as not to bring bad luck to the family.

2. Don't get a haircut
The Chinese word for hair (髮) is a homonym with the word fortune (發). Getting a haircut on this day symbolizes washing away one's wealth, and it will become impossible to save money this year.

3. Don't see the doctor

Unless a medical condition suddenly worsens, making an unessential visit to the doctor could result in endless sickness and pain in the coming year, according to folk beliefs.

4. Keep tools and equipment properly maintained

Damage to tools or equipment signifies the loss of wealth and bad luck this year. Therefore, it is advisable to make sure they are functioning properly in advance to prevent any damage.

5. Stay away from dreary places

People who are in poor physical health or tend to have bad luck should avoid going to places with negative, yin energy (陰氣) such as desolate areas on the outskirts of town, cemeteries, and columbariums. Visiting such places will only bring more misfortune.

6. Prevent the loss of property

If someone loses their property on this day, it means that they will be unable to manage their finances and could easily miss good opportunities throughout the year. Special attention should be paid to avoiding the loss of property before this day arrives.

7. Don't lend out money

One should not lend money on this day. Otherwise, others will borrow away the lender's luck for the year.

8. Don't empty the rice pot

Do not allow the bottom of the rice pot to be exposed because it is a bad omen that will negatively impact financial fortunes.

9. Don't damage clothing

Make sure that clothing does not become tattered or torn on this day. Otherwise, one will suffer financial loss and bad luck.

10. Don't slaughter animals

If one slaughters livestock during the Lantern Festival, it will lead to bankruptcy and bodily injury. The exception is those whose livelihood depends on it, such as butchers.

11. No swearing or cursing

Avoid swearing during the festival, otherwise disasters will come from the slip of the tongue, and the speaker will be prone to misspeaking and causing arguments.

12. Do not wear outfits with black-and-white stripes

White and black are related to prison and death. Wearing clothing with stripes of these colors during the Lantern Festival will put one's aspirations out of reach.