Our apartment building had a Christmas party a week and a half ago. It’s interesting: most people in Taiwan don’t really celebrate Christmas (public schools and offices are open on the 25th for business as usual), much less understand what it’s about. And yet they do see it as an excuse to have parties and decorate a little. The front entryway and lobby of our apartment are nicely decked out with ornaments and wreaths, and there’s a (constantly) singing Christmas tree surrounded by poinsettias and other decorations in the lobby.
So anyway, our apartment’s party was a potluck dinner with some catered items as well. A huge tent had been set up down in the courtyard, with long tables full of food. We got there almost right on time with our fruit salad to share, and already the place was thronged with people. Someone we met who spoke English advised us not to try standing in line, but just to grab a plate, push our way toward whatever food we wanted, and to serve ourselves as fast as we could before all the good stuff was gone. After all, she said, this is Taiwan!
Well, we were a little hesitant to do that, so we just tried to serve ourselves quickly without too much shoving. All around us people were elbowing their way in, loading their plates unrealistically high with whatever looked best, then hurrying to get out of the way of the crowd. Some people had even brought big bowls or containers and were quickly filling them with enough food to feed multiple families, then taking them back home to eat. It was amazing how fast the serving dishes emptied – there was no question of going back for seconds on much of anything except for corn soup or plain white rice. There were other events after the meal, like a free drawing for various prizes, but we hadn’t RSVPed in time to take part in that. (Last year we did, and we won a little lamp and a Kentucky Fried Chicken Christmas clock.) There was also a talent show, but it was cold down there and there weren’t enough seats anyway, so we ended up just going home to watch a Christmas movie. The PA system was so loud that we could hear the music blaring even up on the seventh floor with all doors and windows shut and our movie on.
So, that was our memorable second Christmas in Taiwan!