Ep16: The Lantern Festival | Guân-siau 元宵

Bite-size Taiwanese - Cover Art - Elementary - 2500x2500
Bite-size Taiwanese | Elementary
Ep16: The Lantern Festival | Guân-siau 元宵

In this episode, we’ve talked about some traditions of the Lantern Festival in Taiwan.

(These show notes use tables and rich formatting. Please visit the episode webpage for an optimal viewing experience.)


kū-li̍k the traditional calendar
tsiann-gue̍h-tsa̍p-gōo the 15th day of the 1st month
Siōng-guân / Guân-siau / Siōng-guân- the Lantern Festival
siau- late night snack
pàng phàu-á to light up firecrackers
Tsin tsē gín-á siōng-guân-ē gia̍h kóo-á-ting. Many little kids will carry lanterns around on the night of the Lantern Festival.
kóo-á-ting traditional lanterns that are in the shape of “drums”
hue-ting ornate lanterns that can be in all different shapes and sizes
ioh ting-tshai to try to solve a lantern riddle
kha, kak, ū bīn, bô thâu-khak.” -- “Toh-á.” “4 legs, 4 corners, a face, but no head” -- “A table.”

Culture note: This is an example of a Taiwanese lantern riddle. The word “kak” also means “horn”.

înn-á a round dumpling made with glutinous rice flour that is often eaten during the Winter Solstice (“Tang-tseh”) or the Lantern Festival

Culture note: As “înn-á” is round-shaped, eating “înn-á” represents family and friends getting together.

thuân-înn reunion with family and friends
muâ-á sesame
thôo-tāu peanut
ōo-á taro
Pîng-khe thian-ting Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

More information:


thian-ting sky lantern
pàng thian-ting to release sky lanterns into the sky
Kā lí ê guān-bōng siá tī thian-ting tíng-kuân. Write your wishes for the upcoming year on the sky lantern.
Guân-siau-tseh ū tsa̍p-guā-bān lâng ē lâi Pîng-khe pàng thian-ting. On the Lantern festival, more than 100,000 people will descend on Pingxi to release sky lanterns.
Tsa̍p-hūn-liâu Shifen, a mining town next to Pingxi where the sky lanterns are famously released on the Lantern Festival
Kiâm-tsuí phang-á-phàu Beehive Fireworks Festival

More information:


phang bees
phàu firecrackers
tì an-tsuân- to wear a helmet
kuà tshiú-lông to wear gloves
tshīng kāu ê guā-thò to wear a thick, heavy coat
Kuan-tè- Taoist God of War
Tâi-tang Taitung, a city on the east coast of Taiwan
Tâi-tang tsà Hân-Tan Bombing Master Handan Festival

More information:


*Syllables that have been greyed out require a tone change


For this episode about the Lantern Festival, our One Bite Challenge is for you to “ioh ting-tshai”, solve a lantern riddle.

Here’s our Challenge:

Tn̂g ná king, înn ná táu, beh lâi tshe sann sì, beh khì jia̍p peh káu.

長 若 弓,圓 若 斗,初 三 四,廿 八 九。

This lantern riddle can be translated as:

“Long like a bow, round like a bucket, she comes around the 3rd or 4th, and she leaves on the 28th or 29th.” (Hint: The category is a natural phenomenon.)

Let’s break down this “ting-tshai”:

tn̂g long
to seem like, like
king bow
înn round, circle
táu a round-shaped container for storing things like rice, or a cup-shaped container used to measure
beh lâi to want to come, to be coming
tshe sann the 3rd or the 4th day of the month (of the lunar calendar)
beh khì to want to go, to be going
jia̍p peh káu the 28th or 29th day of the month (of the lunar calendar)

Usage note: “jia̍p” means the number 20, contracted from “jī-tsa̍p”. “Jī-tsa̍p” is used more often in general contexts, and the contracted form here is used for the rhythmic structure.

The answer is:


The moon

Did you get the right answer? For more about the Lantern Festival, be sure to check out our workbook. It also gives you some additional vocabulary, culture and grammar explanations, and great exercises to reinforce what you’ve learned in this episode.

Music Credit: TeknoAXE

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