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County News
“2014 National Hakka Day—1,000 Good Friends” Event Exhibits Hakka Spirit Magistrate Huang and Wife Attend Celebration, Demonstrate Pounding Sticky Rice Cake Dough
Date: 2014-02-19    
February 19 (the twentieth day of the first month on the lunar calendar) is National Hakka Day, and it was also that culture’s festival known as “Sky-Mending Day”. In celebration, the Taitung County Government held the “2014 National Hakka Day—1,000 Good Friends” celebration at the Taitung City sugar factory. Activities included 1,000 people making sticky rice cakes, music as well as social and political advocacy booths. Magistrate Justin Huang and his wife were present to demonstrate proper sticky rice cake dough pounding as well as to participate in making sticky rice cakes in an effort to learn from the hard-working, simple spirit of the Hakka people. Magistrate Huang thanked everyone for four years of support. He stated that this year is crucial to the development of Taitung County, so the County Government will continue to work hard toward improving the lives of its citizens.

The “1,000 Good Friends” event was held by the County Government in celebration of National Hakka Day. It began at 10:00 a.m. at the Taitung City sugar factory. Magistrate Huang, in Hakka apparel, hosted the event. Also present were County Council Chair Rao Qing-ling, council member Xie Ming-zhu, legislator Liu Zhao-hao, Taitung City Mayor Chen Jian-ge, Council for Hakka Affairs member Lin Fang-rong, honorary council member Cai Rui-qiu, Magistrate Huang’s wife Chen Lian-yan, Director Yang Shu-min of the Civil Affairs Department, Chairperson Cai Huan-xun of the Hakka Assembly, Chairperson Huang Fa-lou of the Taitung Liutui Association and Chairperson Zhang Wei-lai of the Taitung County Taoyuan-Hsinchu-Miaoli Association. The Taiwan Sugar Corporation allowed its factory grounds to be used free of charge for the event so as to exhibit the recently renovated site. Moreover, in an effort to relate the mending of the sky to the current concern of the environment, participants made sticky rice cakes by hand in a more nutritious and environmentally friendly method of celebration.

First, the Taitung Liutui Association opened the event with a dance as Magistrate Huang, who is part Hakka, exhibited his Hakka speaking skills throughout the entirety of the event. He stated that February 19 is National Hakka Day as well as the day to remember when, according to myth, Nuwa mended the sky. So, four different celebrations were held in Taitung County as the diligence and simplicity of the Hakka are good examples for all to learn by. That day, 1,000 people came to take part in making sticky rice cakes, including a lot of kids. Also, there were booths set up representing various governmental agencies to offer help and answer people’s questions. Through the cooperation of the County Government and the Hakka of Taitung, Hakka cultural events have done very well. With hard work over the past four years, the number of tourists, building projects and events in Taitung County has increased. Everyone is likely to see that Taitung has changed, and the County Government will continue striving to improve the lives of locals even more.

Legislator Liu Zhao-hao (whose wife is of Hakka descent), County Council Chair Rao Qing-ling (who is Hakka) and Mayor Chen Jian-ge (also of Hakka descent) also gave speeches in Hakka, expressing the importance they place on the Hakka community and affirming the efforts of the County Government regarding building projects and the promotion and passing on of Hakka culture.

Later, Magistrate Huang and other respected guests gave a demonstration on the pounding of sticky rice cake dough, and they also led everyone in exercises that were both fun and caused participants to break a sweat. Then, all present made sticky rice cakes. Magistrate Huang personally went to each table to see how people were doing. With help from teachers and some older women, students from Tian Ren Kindergarten and Guang Ming Elementary School made some good-looking sticky rice cakes.

Around the venue were exhibited “100 Impressions of the Hakka of Taitung” to allow locals and tourists a chance to learn more about the culture, industry and lifestyle peculiar to the Hakka. Local artists and the National Taitung Senior Commercial Vocational School symphonic band performed at the event. There was also a fair for hand-made goods. Furthermore, stalls were set up by the County Public Health Bureau, the Internal Revenue Department, the Industry and Commerce Section and the Consumer Service Center to offer people basic information regarding medicine, health maintenance and life in general. The booths had quizzes with prizes for correct answers.

The County Department of Civil Affairs stated that National Hakka Day is an important holiday, and they hope that the uniqueness of the Hakka culture and this people’s respect for nature can be displayed through this event advocating environmental protection, conservation and the spirit of loving Mother Earth. An even greater objective of the event is the promotion and passing down of the Hakka culture.

National Hakka Day was announced on September 9, 2010 by the Council for Hakka Affairs to take place on the twentieth day of the first month on the lunar calendar (Sky-Mending Day). “Sky-Mending Day” is an important festival for the Hakka and originates from the myth “Nuwa Mends the Skies”. According to the myth, in ancient times, the gods of fire and water pierced a hole in the sky while fighting. As a result, people suffered hardship. In an effort to save the human race, Nuwa refined a multicolored stone to patch the hole in the sky. The Hakka offer sacrifices of foods made from rice and sweet flat noodles, which symbolize helping her patching up the sky. There is an old Hakka saying that goes, “No work is to be done on Sky-Mending Day.” So, Hakka people take this day off, singing and celebrating instead.
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