Thursday, January 10, 2008

Things About Taiwan

I'm trying to think of aspects of life in Taiwan that are unique to this country. Taiwan is of course similar in many ways to other countries in East Asia, but I think every nation has its unique points.

1. On days that are sufficiently auspicious, I'll walk down the street and pass tables set up in front of businesses, with various bits of food laid out as offerings to the gods. Sticks of incense are usually burned as well. There will be a metal container with a fire going; this is for the burning of spirit money and other important bits of paper (I've never been able to ascertain what, exactly). This is part of Chinese culture that the PRC has put an end to in mainland China. (I think much of the same things are done in other substantial Chinese communities around the world, but traditions probably continue the strongest in Taiwan.)

2. Lottery numbers are printed on receipts here; apparently there are several drawings each day, with prizes of various amounts awarded. On the one hand this means cashiers always expect you to want a receipt, no matter how small the purchase; this can be a bit annoying as you collect lots of small slips of paper. On the other hand, many businesses have collection boxes where you can donate receipts. I've never actually checked to see if I won anything.

3. Taiwan's the first country I've lived in to have its own calendar. Years are counted from the fall of the Qing Dynasty and the formation of the Republic of China in 1911. (It is not unlike Japan officially counting the years from the beginning of the current emperor's reign.) The year 97 just began - the years change at the same time as in the Western calendar. Most official documents in Taiwan use the ROC Calendar, although I also see Western years widely used.

1 comment:

Paul A. Kroll said...

Nice Blog! I worked with a girl from Taiwan in NYC and she said the lottery on the receipts were an incentive for the people to keep buying. Maybe America should look into something like that since the "R" word is getting thrown around like crazy now.