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Taiwanese version of Thanksgiving

Categories: East Asia, Taiwan (ROC), Arts & Culture, Citizen Media, Religion

Seeing Americans have Thanksgiving holidays, Alanruo [1] tries to search for similar festival in Taiwan and finds a similar counterpart, the Well-beings sacrifice:


Each year at around the fifteenth day of the tenth lunar month (around November 15th in Gregorian calendar), many villages in Taiwan would hold the Well-beings sacrifice (平安醮), also known as xiepingan (謝平安) or baipingan (拜平安). The purpose of the xiepingan sacrifice is to express one's gratitude towards the Lord of Heaven, who guards and speeds one's business and family. I argue that this is indeed the Thanksgiving Day of Taiwan.

Below are some photos that show how the Taiwanese-version Thanksgiving looks like.

In some villages, people would jointly organize a three to seven day long Well-beings sacrifice to express their thanks to the deities and spirits who had protected them from ill-luck in the past year. Below is a picture showing the beautiful altar set up for the Taoist priests to perform a ritual.

Photo courtesy of alhorn [2]

This Well-beings sacrifice is not only for deities but also for ghosts, and the bamboo poles with flags in the following picture are erected several days before the ritual to catch the spirits’ attention for the ceremony.

Photo courtesy of Alanruo [3]

Alanruo [3] explained the ritualistic function of the grass inside the bucket:


We cannot forget the forage for gods’ horses.

Photo courtesy of Alanruo [3]

Big pigs are presented as sacrifices.

Photo courtesy of alhorn [2]

There is “real” food for deities, ghosts, and humans, and there is “symbolic” food for deities and ghosts.

Photo courtesy of Alanruo [1]

Time has changed and so do items presented in the ceremony. The tradition keeps renovating–Alanruo [3] discovered some new offer items:


What's the big deal about the candy house? This house made of packs of instant noodles is cool, too.

Photo courtesy of Alanruo [3]

Because there are so much food and so many ghosts, it is important to have Master Dashi (Dashihye, 大士爺) [4], an underworld deity, standing by the tables to make sure that food for the ghosts is evenly distributed.

Photo courtesy of alhorn [5]

In the evenings, there are troupe performance or movie show to entertain spirits and human. At the end of the Well-beings sacrifice, the taoist priests would thank gods again and give blessing to the guests.