A Typical New Year’s Eve Reunion Dinner in Taiwan

A large bouquet of flowers.

Many Taiwanese families have their lunar New Year's Eve reunion dinner at a fancy restaurant nowadays. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

Despite the unabated COVID-19 resurgence and the repeated intrusion into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) by the Chinese Communist regime’s warplanes, Taiwanese people still went ahead with their celebration of the lunar New Year having their New Year’s Eve reunion dinner as usual, except wearing face masks. 

Please watch the following video of a typical New Year’s Eve reunion dinner in Taiwan.

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Because over 95 percent of Taiwan’s population of 23 million is Han Chinese, and Taiwan is home to the best-preserved genuine traditional Chinese culture, Lunar New Year (also known as the Spring Festival) is the most important festival for Taiwanese people. 

2021 Lunar New Year's Eve family reunion dinner at a five-star hotel in New Taipei City.
2021 Lunar New Year’s Eve reunion dinner at a five-star hotel in New Taipei City. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

One of the most essential parts of the festival is none other than a lunar New Year’s Eve reunion dinner. It is commonly referred to as a “reunion dinner (nián yè fàn年夜飯, or tuán yuán fàn 團圓飯),” which is an occasion for family members to get together and enjoy the reunion feast.

Kids are invited to play games on the stage along with their parents at a New Year reunion dinner in a fancy restaurant.
Kids are invited to play games on the stage along with their parents at a New Year’s Eve reunion dinner in a fancy restaurant. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

Traditionally, Taiwanese people would have their lunar New Year family reunion dinner at home; however, many families tend to opt for the reunion feast at a restaurant instead nowadays.

The lion dance performance at a New Year reunion dinner in a fancy restaurant in New Taipei City.
The lion dance performance at a New Year’s Eve reunion dinner in a fancy restaurant in New Taipei City. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

Furthermore, with the increasing affluence and prosperity of Taiwan’s society nowadays, it has become a norm for many families to have a reunion gathering at a fancy restaurant. As a result, people have to make a reservation long before the Lunar New Year’s Eve, or even half a year in advance.

The side dishes of a New Year reunion dinner in a fancy restaurant in New Taipei City.
The side dishes of a New Year’s Eve reunion dinner in a fancy restaurant in New Taipei City. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

Take a famous restaurant in a newly opened five-star hotel in northern Taiwan’s New Taipei City for instance. All of its over 200 tables for the Lunar New Year’s Eve banquet were fully booked several months before the end of last year. 

Some of the main dishes for a New Year reunion dinner at a fancy restaurant in New Taipei City.
Some of the main dishes for a New Year’s Eve reunion dinner at a fancy restaurant in New Taipei City. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

Though Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) had imposed more stringent measures recently, most families still had their family reunion feast at the restaurant as planned. 

The dishes for a New Year's Eve family reunion dinner in northern Taiwan's Taoyuan City.
The dishes for a New Year’s Eve reunion dinner in northern Taiwan’s Taoyuan City. (Image: Julia Fu via Nspirement)

What was different from the past was people had to wear face masks and have their temperature checked before entering the hotel due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Baked grey mullet roe for a New Year reunion dinner in northern Taiwan's Taoyuan City.
Baked grey mullet roe for a New Year’s Eve reunion dinner in northern Taiwan’s Taoyuan City. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

The New Year’s Eve reunion dinner

The dishes for a New Year's Eve reunion dinner in northern Taiwan's Taoyuan City.
The dishes for a New Year’s Eve reunion dinner in northern Taiwan’s Taoyuan City. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

There were 10 courses along with some tasty side dishes for the lunar New Year’s Eve feast at the restaurant, as the number 10 means a return to unity, denoting completion and perfect. The main courses included baked lobster, “Buddha Jumps Over the Wall,” steamed fresh abalone, baked pork chops, steamed radish with scallops and black moss, steamed grouper, green mustard with abalone, steamed purple rice with Sakura shrimp, black bone chicken soup, sweetened red bean cake, and seasonal fresh fruits.

The performances

To enhance the festive atmosphere, the restaurant also arranged various performances on the stage, such as a lion-dance performance and saxophone performance. In between, some kids and their parents were invited to play games on the stage. The most exciting moment was the lucky draw session, in which some free accommodation and dining coupons were given away to those who had better luck at the annual reunion gathering.

A calligrapher wrote lunar New Year decoration posters for those who had their family dinner in a restaurant in New Taipei City.
A calligrapher wrote lunar New Year decoration posters for those who had their family dinner in a restaurant in New Taipei City. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

Side activities

While diners were enjoying their delicious dishes, a couple of restaurant staffers who acted as the “God of Wealth” were walking around to greet people at each table, and give away candies. Many patrons were inclined to have a group photo taken with the “God of Wealth,” hoping to bring in wealth and good fortune in the coming year. 

A hotel staffer acting as the 'God of Wealth' gave away candies to the patrons of the restaurant.
A hotel staffer acting as the ‘God of Wealth’ gave away candies to the patrons of the restaurant. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

In the meantime, a balloon artist was walking around to make balloon swords, balloon guns, and other balloon toys for kids on the spot.

A child plays the ring-tossing game at a New Year reunion dinner in a hotel in New Taipei City.
A child plays the ring-tossing game at a New Year’s Eve reunion dinner in a hotel in New Taipei City. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

Additionally, there were some other side activities taking place outside the dining halls throughout the dinner, such as writing lunar New Year decoration posters with lucky verses and drawings, making cotton candy, playing the ring-tossing game, etc.

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