Customs and traditions
In essence, customs and customs in Taiwan are
of Chinese origin, although those whose ancestors came
from China several hundred years ago have to some extent
been mixed with the indigenous peoples. The proportion
who identify themselves as primarily Taiwanese has
increased significantly since the democratization of the
1990s. However, some hold on to the classical Chinese
Some features of Taiwanese traditions can also be
discerned as the legacy of Japanese occupants during the
first half of the 20th century.
Overview of the capital city of Taiwan, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
About half a million residents in Taiwan belong to
one of the indigenous peoples. They are of Austronesian
origin, which means that they share linguistic and
cultural features with people in the island world of
Southeast Asia and in the Pacific. The indigenous
peoples have their own traditions that differ from those
of the majority society. They are not treated here.
Know and label
Taiwanese are often quite formal. Western attire is
the usual. In the business world, suit mainly applies.
In less formal contexts, casual clothing is used, but
adults dress neatly. By tradition it is considered
important to stay whole, clean and tidy.
When meeting someone for the first time, it is
advisable to use title and last name. In general, the
family name stands first, although some Taiwanese use
Western first names and then often put them first.
Taiwanese are used to living tightly and may find it
natural to sit or stand closer to another person than
people from sparsely populated Sweden are accustomed to.
To greet and show respect
If you are introduced to a group of people, it is
important that you greet them in the right order: the
oldest or highest ranking goes first. If you want to
show special respect for an elderly person, you can put
your right hand on your left fist and put your hands on
With foreigners, Taiwanese usually shake hands, at
least men in between. A man should not extend his hand
to a woman, but of course, if she extends her hand. The
handshake is often loose, and usually lasts longer than
a Swede is used to.
Taiwanese themselves often see themselves in the
ground when greeting, as a sign of respect. However, a
friendly smile from a westerner is hardly
misinterpreted. A common greeting phrase is "Have you
eaten?" - a clear indication of the importance of meals.
The first impression a person makes is considered
very important, so it is important to be polite. If you
are invited to a restaurant you should praise the place,
the food and any entertainment - and be prepared that
the host instead criticizes everything.
As a visitor, one should keep in mind to try to avoid
embarrassing others ("losing face"). A relationship
builds slowly and carefully, it is not in its place to
be overly intimate at once. Nor should the vote be
raised in the first place. Gestures that we think are
friendly can be misinterpreted, such as putting your arm
on someone or patting a child on the head.
Gifts play a central role. It is very important to
always give and receive gifts with both hands. You do
not normally open a gift immediately upon receiving it.
Alcohol and cigarettes are common gifts. A food basket
is often appreciated, but should not be brought if you
are a guest in someone's home - it can be perceived as
not believing the food to be offered on tablecloths. A
Taiwanese who receives a gift can say no, sometimes once
and twice, in an expression of courtesy. The donor
should try again, even if you never get too strident.
A gift is usually beautifully wrapped, careless
packages are not well received. The packages may have
red, pink or yellow paper - on the other hand, paper in
white, blue or black. If a gift contains a plurality of
something, it should not be an uneven number, as it is
considered unlucky. Four is also an unlucky number,
while eight are considered to bring luck to the
Certain kinds of gifts should be avoided: knives and
scissors are considered to symbolize that one wants to
break the relationship; bells, handkerchiefs and white
flowers are associated with burial and death.
Business cards are very important in business
contexts. They are not thrown over in haste, but are
presented and received in something of a ceremony. Not
least, do it with both hands. You should also look at a
card you get, not just stop it. It is a way of showing
respect. Writing something on the back is also not
Food has a central role in Taiwanese life. A
definition of family is those who eat together. People
who share food are considered equal, which means that
people who are considered to rank higher are not
normally invited home.
Business partners and superficial acquaintances are
happy to meet at a restaurant. If one is invited to
become a Taiwanese, one should consider it an honor.
The kitchen is very mixed, with South China roots but
also with influences from the rest of China, Japan and
the indigenous peoples' eating habits. On the table are
often fish and other things from the sea and a plethora
of vegetables. Pork and chicken are also common. Rice is
a basic food, it is usually eaten directly from a bowl
that you hold close to the mouth with one hand, while
the other holds the sticks with which you push the rice
Taiwanese do not park their chopsticks by putting
them in the rice. It is considered to be reminiscent of
funerals. Instead, the sticks are placed horizontally on
the edge of the rice bowl.
Traditions and holidays
Taiwan's holidays and national symbols reflect the
political background. The "Republic of China" was
founded on the mainland in 1912 and that year is counted
as year one. Consequently, 2011 is officially the 100th
year in Taiwan. The national anthem is based on a text
by the Chinese nationalist hero Sun Yat-sen from 1924.
The flag is also from the 1920s - a period when Taiwan
was under Japanese rule.
On January 1, the founding of the Republic is
celebrated at the same time as the Western New Year.
National Day falls on October 10, called
"double-ten-day" in the numerical tradition. The day
celebrates an uprising against the last imperial dynasty
on the mainland in 1911, which resulted in the
proclamation of the republic.
The most important holiday is the Chinese New Year,
also known as the Spring Festival. It falls in January
or February. The New Year begins with three holidays and
the period ends after two weeks with the Lantern
Festival. It is an important family celebration when you
gather, socialize and eat well. Children often receive
money that is put into red envelopes. The New Year
begins with an orgy in firecrackers and fireworks, which
returns at the Lantern Festival.
The Moon Festival falls on the full moon, usually in
September. It is a family celebration and an autumn
celebration when the end of the harvest is celebrated.
February 28 is a memorial day to commemorate the
victims of a massacre committed by the Chinese national
government in Taiwan in 1947. In April, the "Tomb of the
Tombs" commemorate one's ancestors by cleaning graves
and burning incense and banknotes.