A different country and culture, a new city and language—I’m living in a state of amazement and cluelessness on a daily basis. It’s been four months since I landed in Taiwan for the first time. Having studied the language for the past two years, I felt I was minimally equipped for this year. However, to my surprise, being dropped into a new country is more difficult then it seems. For the first two months I experienced culture shock, friendlessness, and the challenges of communicating in a new language. I have so much to learn within such a short time. Even today as I sit and research the way Easter is celebrated in Taiwan, I see how culture influences everything.
Thinking back through the years, Easter in Canada is a long weekend that begins with Good Friday. Those who go to church attend an annual service; others take it as an extra holiday. However, this is only a reality to those who live in a post-Christianity country. For those living in a pre-Christianity society, Good Friday is just another ordinary day. Amazingly, in the year of 2015, Taiwan will have an Easter holiday as it perfectly overlaps Children’s Day (兒童節) and Qing Ming Festival (清明節). Qing Ming Festival is a holiday dating back to the Qin Dynasty when the Emperor and the royal family clean the gravestones of their ancestors. Later, it became a tradition to the commoners of China too. Now in the twenty-first century, Taiwan continues to remember their ancestors during this time. This year, Christians may also spend more time to remember Christ’s death and resurrection.
On the other hand, Taiwan does not have Good Friday; rather they remember Jesus through their Crucifixion Week. During the week, they have three evenings of prayer and worship to remember the blood shed of Christ through giving thanks in prayer, songs and fellowship. Then on Thursday, they join with another church in the breaking of the bread and drinking of the cup. On Friday, they hold a meeting of Prayer and Fasting to end off the week. On Saturday, children and students will walk in the shoes of Jesus and see Jesus’ joy and suffering. They end with their annual Easter Sunday Service as they remember Jesus’ sacrifice for their sins, that they may be saved and one day join him in Heaven.
I pray that all of us—no matter our city, language or culture—may rejoice in praising God for all the good things He is doing in our country, our city, our church and our homes. God Bless.