Strange Festivals in Taiwan

Taiwanese festivals are a mix of two very different cultures resulting in some very strange festivals. The indigenous traditions and cultures have evolved with the Chinese traditions and cultures. Together they make for some interesting holidays in Taiwan to be enjoyed by everyone. Some very interesting and strange festivals indeed.

Strange Festivals – The Beehive Yenshui Fireworks Festival

In this Taiwan video, watch as a beehive of fireworks explodes and crowds of people fight to be the one to get hit by the fireworks.

Where: In Yanshui City, Tainan. (also spelt YenSuei or Yenshui – mean “salt water city”)

When: On the 14th and 15th day of the first lunar month. The first day is a smaller celebration and the second day is the big , final celebration that can last from midday to early morning the next day.

Who: Anyone can come and enjoy the festival

Why: Yanshui’s Beehive fireworks festival gets its name from the “beehive like” structure that are made by shop owners to put in front of their businesses. They are filled with bottle rockets that shoot out in every direction like angry bees leaving their hive. The belief is that the bigger the display and more explosive the beehive, the more prosperous the business and town will become in the new year.

It is believed that The Beehive Fireworks Festival’s origins date back to more that a hundred years ago when the town had an outburst of Cholera. It raged for years until the surviving townspeople asked Lord Guan (a Chinese god of war) to help them. He told them to set off every firework on the night of the lantern festival and the fire and smoke will chase away the plague.

The festival has become so popular, that it is now not only held on the streets of the town, but also in big fields where giant exploding “beehives” are wheeled in to shoot bottle rockets and fireworks at the crowd. Townspeople and visitor are all welcome to come and be hit by the fury of the “beehive.” Traditionally it is believed that if you were hit by a firework and it did not hurt, it would prove you were in the god’s favor and it would bring you good luck. So, local people would come wearing only a loincloth or shorts. Nowadays rules are stricter and it is strongly recommended that you wear some “armor”. People will wear long-sleeved shirts or jackets, long pants, protective shoes and gloves, and most importantly, a helmet with a full-face visor to protect their face; with a towel or two wrapped around their neck so stray bottle rockets don’t go up into their helmets and damage their hearing or worse. Often protect wear can be bought for cheap in the markets set up in town.

As a spectator from a distance, a helmet is still necessary, as stray bottle rockets and fireworks can travel far in these strange festivals. Many people bring their families to watch the event from a distance. They can enjoy the atmosphere and other festivities going on in the town such as concerts, games, parades, night market food and snacks, and of course lanterns.