By Sophia Hsu


As the Winter Solstice and Lunar New Year approaching, many families in Taiwan are preparing for the upcoming holidays. Traveling back to hometowns or villages, new clothes and gifts involve a lot of preparation and care. For those families in the United States, Taiwan Tourism Bureau in New York and its partners China Airlines, COTS Travel, and Charming Holidays (USA) want to help you spend the Lunar New Year celebrations in Taiwan and experience everything that Taiwan has to offer at this special time of year.

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The Lantern Festival, also known as Yuanxiao or Denghui, completes the 15 days of Lunar New Year celebrations. Taiwan Tourism Bureau, invites everyone to visit Taiwan for the 2017 Lantern Festival in Yunlin next year, which kicks off on the last day of the Lunar New Year on February 11, and lasts through February 19. From traditional lanterns of red and gold to favorite anime and manga characters to giant, elaborate animatronic sculptures, there is something for everyone to enjoy all over the island. In addition to the amazing light shows, you can discover the history, food, and natural wonders of Taiwan.


As for food during the Lantern Festival, families traditionally come together, enjoy the full moon and night air, and share glutinous rice ball soup, also known as tangyuan. The dish is like a big, warm welcome home. The star of the soup, which can be made sweet or savory, is always the glutinous rice balls. Red food coloring may be added to a few of the rice balls for a festive touch. Traditionally, red is used to adorn the family and home to ward off evil spirits. The round shape of the tangyuan represents the wholeness and togetherness of the family, so it is generally believed that consuming the rice balls will bring the family good luck and happiness in the new year.


A family’s roots often influence whether a sweet or savory rice ball soup is shared. Families with roots in Northern China have a tendency towards a sweet dessert soup, syrupy and flavored with ginger and honey or brown sugar. The rice balls are sometimes filled with crushed peanuts, black sesame paste, red bean paste, or mashed taro. Southern Chinese origins favor a savory soup that feels like a meal. A long simmered chicken bone broth creates the base for the soup. While each family has its own treasured recipe for tangyuan passed down through the generations, the basic additions include dried shrimp, thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms, garlic chives or garland chrysanthemum, and some impossibly thin strips of pork are thrown in for seasoning. No matter the style of tangyuan, celebrating the final night of Lunar New Year with family is essential.


Be sure to check out the amazing Lunar New Year deals from China Airlines to Taiwan and explore all the fun and food of Lunar New Year and the Lantern Festival for yourself. Discover other events, points of interest, and even suggested itineraries on Taiwan Tourism Bureau’s website: http://eng.taiwan. net.tw/m1.aspx. photos from the Lantern Festivals can also be found at: http://eng.taiwan.net. tw/m1.aspx?sNo=0002021.