Monday, May 3, 2010

BeiGang Matsu Birthday Celebration

Last night I went with 2 friends to visit the family of my friend Sam in North Harbor (BeiGang), an early cultural center in Taiwan. We were told we would just be eating snacks so we ate a light supper first, but we were in fact treated to a full course home-cooked meal! Afterward we learned the meal was prepared in the home and not hired to outsiders was because of the death of an extended family member in the last year.

BeiGang is no longer on the main circuit on the annual Matsu pilgrimage, but it does retain a unique claim to fame with regard to the celebration of the birth of their goddess Matsu. Children put on make-up and climb atop trucks to give away candies as the parade of dozens of trucks passes through town. The candy truck circuit began last night, and will continue every evening for the next five days.

I was uncomfortable and didn’t stick around to watch the candy parade very long. In the 15 minutes or so I observed, I was particularly struck with how unhappy those on the trucks looked. I didn’t see a single smile the whole time, and I wasn’t the only one who noticed this either. That reminded me of how how last Christmas a Christian church came to visit the restaurant I was at in Tainan at the time for Christmas caroling, a celebration of the birth of God’s Son Jesus Christ as a baby into this world. Due to what was probably a busy day of work and the start of a long evening of caroling, not a single one of the carolers was smiling, and the singing came across as tired and forced. Maybe it’s better to keep activities like these short so that all those participating can continuously radiate an aura of joy. Not always easy to do!

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