Traditional festivals in Taiwan and Vietnam

By Jade Khieu, Class of 2023

Although both share the Asian cultural sphere, there are still differences in how we celebrate traditional festivals. As an expat who has been living in Taiwan for six years, I embrace all features of both cultures, and am excited to let more Taiwanese as well as international friends know about diverse our motherlands are.

Spring Festival or Lunar New Year: Taiwan & Vietnam

It is supposed to be the biggest traditional festival in a year for both countries, that usually falls between late January and mid February. It is the celebration of a new lunar year, a new beginning and both countries share mostly the same traditional customs that are reserved till now. For example, before the New Year’s Eve, people clean their house and prepare offerings to put on the altar of their ancestors; children get new clothes and receive ‘red envelopes’ (紅包 – lì xì) from the elders as a blessing; people exchange new year greetings, wishing each other a great year ahead with phrases like ‘things will become as you wish’ (萬事如意 - vạn sự như ý).

Eventhough Taiwan and Vietnam have similar customs when it comes to the New Year, I prefer the traditional atmosphere with traditional decorations and cuisine, family and friend gatherings (and more) in my home country, while I feel like more Taiwanese people are choosing to travel far away and have a vacation with their loved ones during this special occasion.

Traditional festivals in Taiwan and Vietnam
Vietnamese people also like to wear traditional clothes in the Spring Festival

Dragon Boat Festival

This festival is originated in China as it is said to commemorate the death of an ancient poet. In Taiwan, there are dragon boat racing competitions, local parades and people eat the traditional savory sticky rice wrapped in leaves.

Zongzi – a special dish in Dragon Boat Festival in Taiwan. Image source: Taiwanese Secrets

However, in Vietnam, people celebrate this festival a bit differently. We believe that it is the time to have some traditional dishes and summer fruits to kill all the pests in our body. My family usually has red bean soup served with ice, along with fermented rice and lychees – what a good treat!

Moon Festival

It is the celebration of the mid-autumn time, when the moon gets into its fullest phase. In my country, it is a festival dedicated for children, that they can get many sweet treats, toy lanterns and participate in local lantern parades. There are also lion dance performances on the streets that heats up the atmosphere and is one of the most unique features of Moon Festival. Viet people also eat moon cake, seasonal fruits like pomelos and persimmons and drink tea.

Speaking of celebrating Moon Festival in Taiwan, it is considered a big festival when people have a few days off. And one of the special customs, a must-do thing in Moon Festival here is having BBQ party with family and friends.