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Changhua, Taichung, Taiwan
I am a freelance photographer based in Taiwan, Asia. Photography is a passion as well as a job and Taiwan is a paradise for photographers. I am a product photgrapher, portrait photgrapher, wedding photgrapher, and commercial and editorial photographer. I also photograph a wide range of topics including travel and culture events here in Taiwan. As a sideline, I also teach scuba diving and run guided photography tours, photography courses and guided hikes in Taiwan.

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Chinese New Year 2012

Chinese New Year 2012 - Year of the Dragon

Gong Xi Fa Ca! The traditional Chinese New Year greeting which means "wishing you prosperity" in Mandarin.

The New Year is the longest and most important of the Chinese holidays, celebrated by millions of ethnic Chinese people all over the world. For many it is the biggest family reunion for which people endure hours of cramped travel on public transportation to get home. The festival, which last 15 days, begins on the first day of the month with the Chinese calendar known as "Zhen yue" and culminates on the date of the full moon with the lantern festival. Each of the 15 days has a particular role, often the first day is set aside for people to honour the elders within their family. Ceremonies are held to pay homage to deities and ancestors in which people pray for good harvest and good fortune. It is also known as Spring Festival as it is the start of spring in the Chinese calendar and marks the end of the winter season .

At Songbolin Temple, one of the most popular around Changhua County, situated at the bottom of the Ba Gua Shan mountain range, thousands of people gather on New Year's Day to receive blessings, worship and pray for their ancestors and prosperity. Below is a full article on the festival along with a series of photographs.

To read the full article click "read more" below

Each year is associated one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, 2012 is the Year of the (Male Water) Dragon. In Ancient times the dragon was a symbol reserved for the Chinese Emperor, and it is considered to be an extremely auspicious sign. It symbolizes power, strength and good luck in contrast to Western beliefs where dragons are considered evil creatures.

Leading up to Chinese New year, homes and offices are thoroughly cleaned to sweep away ill fortune and welcome good luck. Cars, motorbikes, scooters and even privately owned commercial vehicles are cleaned for the same reasons. Windows and doors are decorated with red paper cuts and couplets of popular themes of good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity.
On New Years Eve, "Chu Xi", families gather for a big reunion and eat a big meal. Married couples will go to the husbands' family and on the second day the wives' family. Children are given red envelopes containing money up until the start their working lives when the roles are reversed, giving the parents red envelopes.
New Years Eve people set of firecrackers and burn paper money outside their houses.

People waft smoke from incense over thenselves for blessing at SongBoLin Temple, on New Years Day.

Thousands of incense sticks are light for worshipping

Amongst the crowds inside the temple people kneel to worship the gods with joss sticks.

Paper money waved over the burning incense sticks for blessing.

Offerings are laid out on tables inside the temple prior to worship, including paper money, food and drinks.

Fortune telling sticks

Smoke and fire blasts out of the paper money burner.

No festival is complete without the mobile Kareoke outside the temple.

Tired and wet, people begin the hike back down the mountain.

Many of the temples lend small amounts of money to individuals who wish to embark on a new adventure or open a business. The sums lent which vary up to 1000NTD are a symbol for good fortune and luck, and have to be returned on the following the new year. One particular temple famous for this is Zhi Nan Gong Temple in Nantou County, central Taiwan where thousands of people flood there every year to receive their blessings.

The Chinese Calendar

The Chinese Calendar is a lunisolar calendar incorporating elements of a lunar calendar as well as a solar calendar. It is followed by many Asian cultures as well as Taiwan.
The Gregorian calendar is used for day to day life but the Chinese calendar dates continue to be used to mark holidays and festivals such as Chinese New Year and the Full Moon Festival. It is also used astrologically to select favorable dates for weddings, having babies, opening new buildings and other special events. It is also used for fortune telling. It is also used to determine the phases of the moon as each month follows one cycle of the moon. The traditional calendar is known as the "agricultural calendar" while the Gregorian calendar is known as the "common calendar". They are also known as the Yin Calendar in reference to the lunar aspect of the calendar, and Yang calendar in reference to the solar properties of the calendar respectively.

People light firecrackers and burn paper money in front of a table covered with offerings for the gods.

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