Coming from Berlin, New Year’s Eve in Taipei is… unusual.
First, NYE in Berlin is not exactly festive. I like the time “between the years” (the days between Christmas and NYE, when not really much is happening) to relax, reflect, get rid of some old stuff and ideas, and thus create a free canvas for the new year. (This usually lasts not longer than a week, but still… a few old habits really bite the dust.) Berlin… takes ideas of “getting rid of stuff” and “dust” very literally, its fireworks “organized” anarchically by whatever crowds of joyous drunkards want to see explode, its streets filled with laughter as well as drumbeats of military-grade firecrackers and dense clouds of gunpowder.
Compared to this battleground, Taipei is eerily calm. Families settle calmly in the streets around Taipei 101, no laughter or chants fill the silence left by the missing traffic, even the street booths sell not beer but bubble tea, and fifteen minutes after the last cracker, street police gently ask the people to again leave the streets.
Yet, maybe the surprise should be the other way round. Taiwan celebrates Lunar New Year, the most important holidays in a week in late January or February. New Year’s is thus a nice gesture of cultural appropriation, another symbol of Taiwan moving closer to the world, while keeping its inherent cultural heritage.
We had fun, and the fireworks were glorious!
(Click here to learn more about Lunar New Year in Taiwan.)